The number of homicides in 27 cities across the United States was 53 percent higher this summer than in the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, according to an updated analysis by the Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan research group.
The update, covering the months of June, July and August, found that aggravated assaults also increased from last year, by 14 percent, but that many other types of crime plummeted, including residential burglaries, larcenies, and drug offenses. Across the country, overall crime rates remain at or near generational lows, despite striking increases in violence in some cities.
Fluctuations in crime rates are notoriously hard to explain, but 2020 has seen two factors with potentially seismic influence: the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused mass unemployment and made the most proven types of anti-violence measures far more difficult to implement, and the killing of George Floyd in police custody in late May, which sparked nationwide protests.
The new report’s authors, Richard Rosenfeld and Ernesto Lopez, wrote 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 F.B.I reported on Monday that violent crime continued its downward trend in 2019, but that preliminary figures for 2020 show a 15 percent increase in homicides, the largest single-year increase on record.
A New York Times analysis finds that despite President Trump’s attempts to blame “Democrat cities” for failing to curb violence, homicides have increased regardless of the political party of the mayor. In three cities recently called “anarchist” by the Department of Justice — Portland, Ore., New York and Seattle — the murder rate remains quite low. Those cities were not among the top 40 American cities ranked by their projected 2020 murder rate.
And murders are not the only violent crime increasing. The Chicago Police Department said that domestic-violence-related calls increased 12 percent during a period from the start of the year through mid-April, compared with the same time period in 2019. In other cities, including Los Angeles and New York, the police have seen a drop in calls, but the authorities have said they believed that victims were in such close quarters with their abusers that they were unable to call the police.