The number of murders in major American cities is on the rise

The number of murders in major American cities is on the rise

new report from the Council on Criminal Justice presents data showing that murders in many major American cities have risen 16% over the first 6 months of 2021, as part of what is widely viewed as a new wave of crimes and violence across the U.S. According to the report, when compared to the same period last year, the pace of the increase in murders has slowed down from the first quarter of 2021 to the second: In the first quarter of 2021 homicides rose by 23% compared to last year. In the second quarter they rose just 10%.

These Q 1 Q 2 percentile rises represent 47 murders reported in Buffalo, N.Y. in the first half of 2021 Houston with 228 murders and Portland, Ore., 46 with 23 murders. But cities like St. Louis dropped from 156 murders in the first half of 2020 to 108 so far this year, and Boston saw an equivalent drop from 35 murders in the past to 21 this year.

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The rates for other major criminal offenses - including robberies, residential burglaries, larceny, non-residential burglaries and drug offenses — have also declined compared to 2020. As the national conversation around gun violence prevention strategies continues, this data shows that while some aspects of the problem remain hopeful, others could potentially be trending in a more hopeful direction. And experts are now working to investigate what the root causes of these new trends could be.

'We are seeing this new divergence between forms of crime that generally tend to rise and fall together, particularly violent crime, says Thomas Abt, Senior Fellow with the CCJ. 'We are not seeing a crime wave across all forms of crime.

More details of the study, conducted by criminologist Ernesto Lopez and CCJ research specialist Richard Rosenfeld, showed that in most cities, the increase in violence was significantly after George Floyd's death and during the months of protests that followed. Factors like the strain of the pandemic, reducing in police activity and a lack of trust of the police have been cited as factors for the increase in violence.

On the other hand, some of the restrictions led to some of the declines, like the ones seen in property related crimes.

The CCJ study explores how 'de-policing' has affected crime, which Rosenfeld argues is a 'dominant explanation' for what has happened during the pandemic. 'If we are going to talk seriously about depolicing, we have to tie it directly to the impact of pandemic, Rosenfeld said during a public CCJ webinar discussing the data on Aug. 3. While much is speculated about police officers stepping back over the fear of their conduct being more closely monitored after Floyd's killing, Rosenfeld says that it's been COVID -19's broader impact on U.S. that has had a real impact on the reduction of police activity.

To further analyze and respond to the data and related public perceptions of crime, the CCJ created a Violent Crime Working Group — a panel of law enforcement officials, community leaders, academics and public health officials who will work to assess effective strategies to address gun violence as well as community-based approaches to the problem.

They're not figures, Abt says of the group's members, who include activists at the local and national level and police chiefs and captains. 'The reports describe what is happening and the working group is dedicated to addressing what we do about it in concrete and immediate ways.

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The group will consider some of the points that have been widely speculated as motives for the uptick in violence since the last year, including 'de-policing', an increase in firearm purchasing and the effects of the defund movement.

In recent months, there has been a significant push to more attention on socioeconomic investments in communities impacted by gun violence, and community-led plans to tackle such crimes. Adt has pledged to invest $5 billion over eight years in community violence prevention, something Biden says he never thought he would see from a presidential administration.

A number of cities and states announced more investment in community-led efforts to deal with violence, as well as some steps taken to include more social and health workers in responding to calls that police would normally take. In this vein, the CCJ and their equitable crime working group also represent the idea that it will take academic collaborations across experts and experts, community groups, policy makers and law enforcement to solve the problem.