ABC News 06-19-06 When Temperatures Climb, So Does Crime

ABC News
When Temperatures Climb, So Does Crime
In New Haven, Conn., police arrested two teens in the fatal shooting of Jajuana
Cole, a 13-year-old student who had been shot in the back late Friday outside
her apartment building.
In New Bedford, Mass., over the weekend, police investigated the fatal shooting
of a 35-year-old man found in a car parked on an exit ramp.
In New York City, four people recovered from stabbings suffered in separate
incidents on the subway late last week.
The violence is part of a Northeast crime spike that has coincided with a rise in
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today that the
contiguous United States had experienced its warmest spring since 1895, when
seasonal record-keeping began.
For years researchers have looked into a possible relationship between heat and
There are conflicting results over whether there is an actual correlation between
rising tempers and rising mercury, but the murder rate perennially increases
during the months of July and August, according to the FBI's annual crime report.
Many police chiefs say they put more cops on the streets when the heat rises.
"There's always calls for service increases from May, June, July and August,"
said New Bedford's Capt. Richard Spirlet, who is investigating the killing that
happened over the weekend.
"The longer period of time you have the heat, the worse it is. … It's just the
reverse in the winter time, crime is all but nil."
Craig Anderson, a professor and specialist in social psychology at Iowa
State University, argues the evidence is clear.
"As the temperature goes up, people become more uncomfortable. They become
more irritable," he said. "That … increases the likelihood that a minor conflict will
be interpreted as more major."
"Some people might respond somewhat more aggressively than they would
have. … You get into an escalation cycle and that's how most homicides and
serious assault fights get started," Anderson said.