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Murder in U.S. Increases While Other Violent Crime Declines

So far in 2020, the number of murders in the United States has increased significantly compared to recent years, though overall violent crime has decreased.

This is according to a study of violent crime statistics in 25 large cities undertaken by The New York Times and corroborated in reporting by The Washington Post. Official U.S. crime statistics for 2020 will not be compiled and released publicly by the FBI until September, when it is scheduled to release preliminary data for January through June 2020.

In the Times study, murders have increased 16 percent in the first five months of 2020 compared to the first five months of 2019. At the same time, overall crime is down 5 percent, and violent crime is down 2 percent. According to the Times, the diverging murder and violent crime trends has only happened four times in the last 60 years.

The Washington Post reported a particularly violent Independence Day weekend. In Chicago alone there were 87 shooting victims and 17 people killed; in Atlanta there were 20 injuries and five killed. The New York City police chief called it “one of the most violent weekends we’ve had in recent history.” Some of the recent victims were an 11-year-old in Washington, D.C., an 8-year-old in Hoover, Alabama, and an expectant mother in Minneapolis (the mother died, but as of Monday the baby was alive in intensive care).

Why it is happening this year is cause for speculation. Certainly the unprecedented circumstances of 2020 have played a role. Millions of people being told to essentially remain isolated in their homes for weeks and months on end—either followed by or coinciding with weeks-long mass protests—will obviously affect crime trends. Law enforcement experts in the article cite increased domestic violence as a possible major contributor. Another theory is that distrust of law enforcement as a result of the police brutality protests is leading people to eschew calling police and handle conflicts on their own. The reporting also cites law enforcement noting that they are seeing more people carrying firearms.

While the rise in murders is cause for concern, it is also important to note that murder rates had been declining. In several major cities, the number of homicides increased compared to 2019, but is comparable to, or even less than in some recent years.

Read more about corporate security's role in domestic abuse in "Breaking the Silence: Encouraging Domestic Abuse Reporting" in the May issue of Security Management. Also see ASIS International’s new Workplace Violence and Active Assailant – Prevention, Intervention, and Response Standard.