Despite lockdown orders, murder rates are rising in cities across America

Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images‘Criminals, in general, aren’t rule followers,’ Kansas City Police Department sergeant Jacob Becchina told Insider.
  • A study by the Police Executive Research Forum found homicide rates rising during the pandemic in nine US cities.
  • Nashville reported the biggest bump, with a 233% increase in murders over the same four-week period in 2019.
  • Other cities have also cited spikes in homicides, including New York City, Houston, and Kansas City, Missouri.
  • “Those that are predisposed to commit violent crime are not likely to remain in their homes because there is a stay-at-home order,” Kansas City Police Department Sergeant Jacob Becchina told Insider.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

While crime has gone down overall during the pandemic, homicide rates in several US cities have surged, according to a recent report.

The Police Executive Research Forum examined data on crime in 30 US cities for the period from March 16 to April 12. The law enforcement think tank found that murders increased in nine cities over the same four-week period last year.

Nashville reported the biggest bump, a 233% increase, from 4 homicides in 2019 to 14 in 2020.

Often “the victims and suspects knew or likely knew each other, or had been engaged in some type of dispute,” Metropolitan Nashville Police Department spokesperson Don Aaron told Insider.

The PERF report also found varying increases in Baltimore; San Diego; Denver; Detroit; New Rochelle, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Newark, New Jersey; and Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Cities not included in the study have also seen spikes.

New York City reported 67% more homicides in April 2020 than April 2019, an “incredibly troubling” number of which resulted from domestic violence, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told 1010 WINS.

In Houston, homicides are at a five-year high. Between March 24 – when a stay-at-home order was announced – and May 6, they rose 68% over 2019. For the month of May alone, they have shot up 150%.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s fast,” Houston police sergeant Matthew Brady told KTRK Channel 13. “We’re having to just go nonstop.”

Other cities have seen year-to-date increases, including Cincinnati (115%) and Louisville, Kentucky (63%).

In Kansas City, Missouri, where the murder rate has risen 23% over last year, more people have died from gun violence than COVID-19.

“Criminals, in general, aren’t rule followers,” Kansas City Police Department Sergeant Jacob Becchina told Insider.

“Those that are predisposed to commit violent crime are not likely to remain in their homes away from other people because there is a stay-at-home order,” he said.

New York City police officers wearing protective face masks on patrol in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on May 17, 2020.Roy Rochlin/Getty ImagesIn Kansas City, Missouri, more people have died from gun violence than COVID-19.

John Roman, a University of Chicago economist who studies crime patterns, said that with schools, businesses, and training programs closed, there’s been more opportunity for gang violence, as well.

“Most group-based violence occurs near their home, and the other young men they may have a beef with are also more likely to be at home, too,” Roman said. “It’s a recipe for increased violence.”

But governors ending lockdowns may not see the murder rate drop.

People going outdoors “means more and more opportunities for violent victimization and settling scores that have been long overdue,” former NYPD crime analyst Christopher Herrmann said.

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