Homicides have skyrocketed in several large American cities, which appears to be part of a rise in violent crime in general. One of these cities has reported a jump of 120% in homicides through the first 10 months of the year.
The city homicide figures are part of a large study done for the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, titled “Pandemic, Social Unrest, and Crime in U.S. Cities.” The study was recently updated. Its primary author was Richard Rosenfeld, Curators’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri — St. Louis. In all, the research considered weekly changes among 10 different criminal offenses for 28 cities. The data came from city police department online portals.
The homicide rate was closely examined by breaking it into three periods. First, the research showed the average city homicide rate during the pandemic measured from March to October of 2020. The increase was 32.0% compared to the same period the year before. The rate between June and August of 2020 surged 41.9% higher compared to the same months in 2019. It was 34.2% higher in September and October. Homicide data were available for 21 of the 28 cities followed in the study.
As far as the reason for the rise, Rosenfeld said there was a chance that COVID-19 had changed policing patterns. It is likely to be part of his future research. One thing that was clear about the trend was that while homicides rose, many patterns did not. This was particularly true in the case of the largest segment of murders in the cities studied, described as “two young men in a dispute.”
24/7 Wall St. asked for homicide data for the 21 cities. These totals were then adjusted by the population of each city to get a figure of homicides per 100,000 residents. Not all homicides are murder. They also include manslaughter and self-defense.
Across the 21 cities, the increase in homicides over the January through October period rose as much as 120.0% in Omaha, Nebraska, and fell as much as 2.4% in Baltimore, which has long been considered one of America’s most dangerous cities.
Omaha homicides hit 33, up from 15. The homicide rate reached 7.1, up from 3.2. This was by no means the highest rate among the cities measured. The rate in St. Louis was 79.7, up from 60.7 in the same period of 2019.
While there is no complete explanation for the increase of homicides in some of America’s largest cities, it is impossible to ignore that the numbers are surging. If the most recent trends are telling, the situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon.