Homicide rates in nearly two dozen cities with readily available crime numbers are still nearly 40% higher than they were before the pandemic began, but dipped slightly so far this year compared with the number of killings recorded through June 2021, according to a think tank report released Thursday.
Research analyzed by the Council on Criminal Justice and made public in its “Pandemic, Social Unrest, and Crime in U.S. Cities” mid-year update shows a 2% reduction in homicides – representing a total of 54 deaths – from the first half of 2021 through the same time period this year.
“It is heartening to see the homicide numbers fall, even slightly, but American cities continue to lose too many of their residents to bloodshed,” Richard Rosenfeld, a co-author of the study and professor emeritus at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, said in a statement.
Before the pandemic, murder rates in U.S. cities tallied by the organization had been on a general downward trend over the course of decades.
While in recent months mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Highland Park, Ill.; and Buffalo involving high-powered semiautomatic rifles have occupied national attention, the vast majority of gun violence in the United States still involves handguns.
Cities reviewed for the study ranged in population from Norfolk, home to about 245,000, to New York City, which has more than 8 million residents. Other cities included Minneapolis, Omaha, Buffalo, Detroit and Washington D.C.
Their data showed a drastic increase in the percentage of robberies and property crimes being reported, at a time when many American cities are trying to fight back against the widespread perception of dangerousness.
In cities reviewed by the study’s authors, robberies were up 19% and larcenies increased by 20% for the first half of this year, compared with the same time period last year. In New York and other cities, muggings and violent crime have drawn renewed attention in recent years, with politicians, government officials and public opinion polls increasingly focused on public safety.
The Council on Criminal Justice has published nine reports since the pandemic created a number of complex challenges for local governments and law enforcement agencies. Homelessness and other factors aggravated by the effects of the global health emergency are still a concern, the council says.
The study’s authors advocated “evidence-based crime-control strategies and long needed reforms to policing,” according to a copy of the report.