During a year marked by a global pandemic and widespread civil unrest across much of the U.S., the nation reportedly experienced a surge in violent crime in 2020.
According to FBI statistics cited by the Washington Examiner, homicides have dramatically increased in many jurisdictions, reaching levels not seen in decades.
The FBI’s Crime Data Explorer compiles information from nearly 13,000 law enforcement agencies and provides a stark breakdown of criminal behavior across the board.
Statistician and crime analyst Jeff Asher discussed the details in remarks to the Washington Examiner, declaring that “we’ve never seen an increase” in homicides like the one that the U.S. experienced during 2020. He went on to explain that the shocking spike was as high as 25% in certain areas of the nation.
“Previously the biggest one-year increase in murder was a 12.5% increase in the 1960s,” Asher said. “We’re really talking about unprecedented increases in murder.”
As indicated in the FBI data, the national murder rate was 6.22 per 100,000 last year — an increase from the 5.0 per 100,000 recorded in 2019.
Furthermore, Asher noted that major cities including New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles had not yet submitted their crime data to the bureau.
“Began before lockdowns”
Those numbers could have a major impact on the overall crime statistics, especially considering reports that Chicago’s homicide rate was significantly higher last year than the year before.
Charles Lehman, a researcher at the Manhattan Institute focusing on crime and policing, said that there are important figures that cannot be ignored, even if the root causes are not altogether understood.
“One thing is that this past year was exceptional and that it’s hard to make a claim about general trends in a lot of jurisdictions,” he said, as the Examiner reported. “In New York City, this trend began before lockdowns.”
Lehman noted that another factor to consider is the prevalence of anti-police sentiment and demonstrations, explaining: “It’s impossible to dissociate these trends that are associated with protests against the police and city governments defunding their law enforcement. It’s worth noting that the last time we saw these jumps in murder was after the Ferguson protests.”
Anecdotal evidence suggests police officers have become less proactive in recent years, with a Pew Research Center survey from 2017 finding that 72% of officers said their colleagues are less likely to stop and question suspicious individuals.