Violent crime has spiked in communities across the United States this year, leaving law enforcement scrambling to respond to the local crises.
In Portland, Oregon, for example, reports indicate that more than half of the city’s 61 homicides have not yet resulted in an arrest. The city is on pace to break its 1987 record of 70 homicides within one year.
According to records cited by KGW, roughly 70% of such cases reported since the beginning of 2021 have not yet led to an arrest.
Various factors are believed to be linked to the city’s sharp rise in violent crime, starting with the numerous protests that began last year. A growing number of officers have opted to retire or step down from the police force as a result of the increasing demands.
Furthermore, Portland has been a leading force in the so-called “defund the police” movement, which emphasizes slashing the law enforcement budget and potentially led to a more anemic response to crimes.
A third factor could be the relative dearth of punishment for crimes committed in the city. With only a small percentage of homicide suspects facing charges, the statistics might embolden those who would seek to commit crimes in Portland.
The Wall Street Journal noted that recruitment for new police officers has been a persistent struggle for city leaders.
Within the Portland Police Department’s Gun Violence Reduction Team, there have been just four applicants months after 14 job openings were announced.
Even as the rate of certain other violent crimes declines, the homicide rate is clearly increasing in hotspots across the country. In just the first half of the year, Portland had registered 47 murders compared to just 11 during the same period last year.
There were reportedly 228 murders in Houston, Texas, during the first six months of this year versus 173 during the first half of 2020. Similarly, the number of murders in Buffalo, New York, rose from 31 last year to 46 this year.
A few outliers to the general trend included St. Louis, Mo., which saw a decrease of 156 last year to 108 this year, and Boston, Massachusetts, which saw 14 fewer murders this year.
The difficult situation in many cities might require the addition of more police officers on the streets. Considering the ongoing public backlash against law enforcement, however, that seems to be an increasingly unpopular solution.