In late December, Jeff Asher of AH Data Analytics, downloaded data on murder rates from 57 jurisdictions where data was available for 2019 and 2020 through at least September. Not all data sets are complete, and many are only complete through November. Even with this caveat, the results are shocking and will only worsen as full-year data is compiled.
In the 57 jurisdictions where data met the criteria, murder is up 36.7%. Murder is up in 51 of the 57 jurisdictions, and 37 have an increase of 30% or more. Asher noted that an increase in a large urban area would bump up the nationwide rate by 2-3%. He also believes we will have the largest increase in the number of murders ever recorded:
The largest national % increase ever reported (data since 1960) was 12.7% in 1968 and the largest # increase was 1,938 in 1990. A 15% increase this year (and I think it’ll be much larger) would mean 2,400 more murders & be the worst one year increase in murder ever recorded.
It is not surprising that some of the areas with the largest increases also saw significant rioting and violence this summer. The city with the largest increase in the number of murders is Chicago, with 267 more this year. This is a 56% increase after three years of steady decline through 2019. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s response to violence did not include tear gas or other crowd-control measures. Alderpersons from other areas of the city were highly critical and wanted a more robust response. Lightfoot proposed an $80 million reduction in the Chicago police budget in October.
Minneapolis was the epicenter of the George Floyd riots. The police were severely limited in their response to the violence, and eventually, the National Guard had to come in to secure the city. In response to the riots, the city council decided to defund the police. The murder rate is up 72% over last year, and carjacking has skyrocketed 537%.
The list of cities where murder is up significantly includes the usual suspects — places where prosecutors have taken prosecutorial discretion to a ridiculous place, where law enforcement officers are demoralized and demonized, or where the answer to COVID-19 included releasing a significant number of inmates. New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and St. Louis have all increased over 30% without even closing out the year. Cities that have been in chaos following the summer riots are also on the list. Seattle is up 74% year over year, and Portland is up almost 52%, without the final months of the year included.
However, smaller cities are on the list too. Tulsa, San Bernardino, and Fort Worth have all had staggering percentage increases as well. While compassion within the criminal justice system is necessary, and diversion programs may work in some circumstances, people being murdered in large numbers in America’s major cities cannot become the new normal. The policies being implemented in these cities, such as eliminating cash bail and selective prosecution, need to be reevaluated.
It is unclear how the policies of the new administration are going to help solve the problem. President-elect Joe Biden’s rhetoric on law enforcement has echoed the activists. This included accusing Capitol Police of racist views in the wake of the riot on January 6th. He said clearly that the officers would have behaved differently if the protestors had been black.
Without local, state, and national leadership that supports law enforcement in doing their jobs, the demoralization is likely to metastasize. The Ferguson effect, described as police officers who are not willing to do their jobs because they feel they will not be supported, has been seen in pockets of the country to date. After this summer, we may be seeing it to varying degrees nationwide. Until the systemic racism narrative ends and real solutions for holding individual bad actors are in place, law-abiding Americans, including a heartbreaking number of children, will pay with their lives.