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U.S. Homicides On The Rise, According to CCJ and FBI

America is seeing a surge in violent crimes and homicides in 2020. A new report, by the Council on Criminal Justice, found that Homicide rates increased by 42% during the summer and 34% in the fall over the summer and fall of 2019.

Researchers examined weekly changes in 10 different criminal offenses across 28 cities from January 2017 through October 2020. The largest city is Los Angeles, the smallest is St. Petersburg, and Baltimore was added to this sample. Crime data was obtained from the online portals of police departments. Crime counts for recent months are preliminary and may be subject to revision, although subsequent changes should not substantially affect the findings.

In the 21 cities providing homicide data, there were 610 more homicides in the summer and fall of 2020 than during the same period in 2019. Aggravated assaults went up by 15% in the summer and 13% in the fall of 2020; gun assaults increased by 15% and 16%.

With the exception of a brief spike in non-residential burglary, property and drug crime rates fell during the first eight months of the pandemic. Residential burglary, larceny, and drug offense rates dropped by 24%, 24%, and 32% from the same period in 2019.

The researchers believe that subduing the pandemic, pursuing crime control strategies of proven effectiveness, and enacting needed police reforms will be necessary to achieve durable reductions in violent crime in our cities.

The FBI’s Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, January–June, 2020, reveals overall declines in the number of violent crimes and property crimes reported for the first six months of 2020 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2019. The report is based on information from 12,206 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six months of comparable data for both years to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

When data from the first six months of 2020 were compared with data from the first six months of 2019, the number of rape offenses decreased by 17.8%, and robbery offenses were down 7.1%. The number of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased by 14.8%, and aggravated assault offenses were up 4.6%.

According to the FBI, the overall number of violent crimes decreased in four city population groups. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations of less than 10,000 reported the largest decrease, 7.2%. Law enforcement agencies in cities with populations of 100,000 to 249,000 reported the smallest decrease, 0.3%.

The FBI reports that violent crime decreased in three of the four regions of the nation. These crimes were down 4.8% in the Northeast, 1.8% in the Midwest, and 1.1% in the West. However, violent crime increased in the South, 2.5%.

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