There is a new report from CNN and the Major Chiefs Association indicating that homicides increased 33 percent for major cities in 2020. Several weeks ago, we reported some of these key findings, which per FBI statistics show:
- a 25 percent increase in homicides
- overall violent crime increased by 3.3 percent
- aggravated assaults increased by 10.5 percent
Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics, violent crime increased 28 percent since 2015. Serious violent crime also increased. And for the first time in years, both the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics agree that violent crime increased.
Per the New York Times, A 25 percent increase in murder in 2020 would mean the United States surpassed 20,000 murders in a year for the first time since 1995, Violent Crime Increases in 2020.
There are an array of sources (per Gallup, violent crime tripled) reporting substantially increased violent crime. Fear of crime grew to record levels, gun and security sales are setting records, and people leaving cities, US Crime Rates.
The CNN article focuses on urban homicides but per the FBI, overall violent crime is up along with aggravated assaults (the Major Chiefs Association also documented an increase in aggravated assaults in an earlier report). I asked the Major Chiefs Association for the source of CNN’s report: it’s not currently on their website as a recent release. There was no reply by press time.
CNN And The Major Cities Chiefs Association (quotes rearranged for brevity)
Major American cities saw a 33% increase in homicides last year as a pandemic swept across the country, millions of people joined protests against racial injustice and police brutality, and the economy collapsed under the weight of the pandemic — a crime surge that has continued into the first quarter of this year.
Sixty-three of the 66 largest police jurisdictions saw increases in at least one category of violent crimes in 2020, which include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, according to a report produced by the Major Cities Chiefs Association. Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Raleigh, North Carolina, did not report increases in any of the violent crime categories.
It’s nearly impossible to attribute any year-to-year change in violent crime statistics to any single factor, and homicides and shootings are an intensely local phenomenon that can spike for dozens of reasons. But the increase in homicide rates across the country is both historic and far-reaching, as were the pandemic and social movements that touched every part of society last year.
Experts point to a “perfect storm” of factors — economic collapse, social anxiety because of a pandemic, de-policing in major cities after protests that called for the abolition of police departments, shifts in police resources from neighborhoods to downtown areas because of those protests, and the release of criminal defendants pretrial or before sentences were completed to reduce risk of Covid-19 spread in jails — all may have contributed to the spike in homicides.
Through the first three months of 2021, a number of major cities have indicated they are still experiencing high rates of violent crime, according to Laura Cooper, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “Some cities are set to outpace last year’s numbers,” she said.
For those studying national crime rates, you are aware of the pushback from advocates insisting that the rise (if there is an increase) is greatly overblown and that we have never lived in safer times based on decades of crime reductions. That all stopped in 2015.
We’ve lost a lot of time debating whether there is, in fact, an increase. Now, maybe we can put this question to bed and move on.
I cited the impact of the pandemic Explaining Violence on crime in earlier articles but I remain convinced that the increase is due to abandoning the only strategy with a research base indicating reduced crime, which is proactive policing.
There are articles linking police defunding and lack of proactive policing to increased homicides and violence, Washington Times.
Cops have been hammered by the press, politicians, and community leaders insisting that they stop self-initiated, proactive strategies. They listened.
Recruitment is down 63 percent and per media reports, officers are leaving policing. Those remaining are responding to calls and patrolling communities, but that’s it, Running Out Of Cops.
Without community support and not wanting to be on the front pages of newspapers throughout the world, officers have concluded that aggressive policing is simply not worth the personal risk.
But if Crime Solutions.Gov from the US Department of Justice is correct, successful violence solutions are few and far between. Violence will not be solved through social programs. If in doubt, search Crime Solutions.
Somehow, someway, we have to reconnect the community to their police officers or any hope of crime reduction and economic progress in the cities affected will come to an end.
Some level of proactivity needs to return and research needs to establish what works and what communities will support. Record increases in homicides and increasing violence is a warning we cannot ignore.