According to the research on crime patterns by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), homicides in major American cities increased by 5 percent in 2021 compared to 2020 and by 44 percent compared to 2019. The research also looked at crime data from 22 cities throughout the United States which shows that murder rates in 2021 are higher than those in 2020.
Despite the rise in homicides, overall homicide rates are still less than in the 1990s, with the 22 cities reporting approximately half as many homicides as 29 years ago. While the current homicide spike has decreased, the bloodshed persists; as long as many U.S. cities continue to lose significant numbers of individuals to murder, this is intolerable and needs addressing.
Three Major Factors Contributing to Rising in Homicide
The surge in violent crime in the United States is a national epidemic triggered by some factors, which include:
#1. COVID-19 Pandemic Impact
COVID-19 has posed a life-threatening threat to law enforcement officers all over the United States. COVID-19 has resulted in the deaths of many law enforcement personnel around the country, causing cops to cut down on their contact with the public. In 2020, many jurisdictions, including Philadelphia, imposed a moratorium on police arresting people for mid-to low-level crimes to decrease police-public contact and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The lack of police presence aided the rise in violent crime to a large extent. Furthermore, many individuals have become bored as amusement, such as eateries and cinemas, have gone down due to the outbreak. Schools closed, and millions of people lost their jobs. It also caused the halting of other violence-prevention activities due to closures. This resulted in more crimes, particularly severe crimes such as murder.
#2. The Murder of George Floyd
On May 25, 2020, the Minneapolis police came under fire for the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. The video showing former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck and choking him went viral, sparking anti-police protests across the United States. As a result of the social unrest that followed Floyd’s murder, police withdrew from discretionary law enforcement duties in many cities; communities also withdrew from continued collaboration and cooperation with cops.
According to a review of arrest statistics by the Reuters news service, police in Minneapolis quickly adopted a hands-off attitude following the protests. When there is a gap between cops and communities, violence tends to rise. People lost faith in police officers and therefore turned to street justice and other unlawful actions to settle interpersonal conflicts, resulting in a spike in murder.
#3. Increased Access to Legal and Illegal Firearms
Another factor contributing to the rise in homicide is a massive increase in gun sales that began following the start of the pandemic and has not subsided. According to the research, gun use was in more than three-quarters of reported homicides in 2021.
Finding and retrieving ‘ghost guns’ with no stamps detailing serial numbers is difficult. The use of ghost firearms is increasing with their utilization in killings. People order them in parts online, some at home with a credit card, and they are untraceable.
As a result, it is more challenging for law enforcement to hold people accountable for owning and using guns until a crime happens. Without a serial number, finding the original owner or purchaser of the ghost pistol, who may help investigators track the ballistics to other probable crimes, is a massive challenge.
Homicide Reduction Strategy
There is a need to reduce excess bloodshed to make society a safer place to live. Some of the strategies that will help to minimize homicide are as follows:
#1. Addressing Violence Underlying Causes
Putting criminals in prison is an action taken by countries to curb violence in their societies, yet offenders exit prison and resume their criminal lifestyle from where they left off. However, identifying the fundamental cause of the crime and devising strategies to help criminals turn a new leaf will go a long way toward reducing crime even after they leave jail.
For instance, in collaboration with the police department and the state attorney’s office, Baltimore is launching its Group Violence Reduction Strategy, which aims to address the root causes of violence. The strategy involves fixing resources on groups with the highest acute risk of involvement in gun violence.
The method intends to provide criminals with a route away from a criminal lifestyle by assisting them with education, helping those with mental illness, helping save those facing addiction, and providing housing. Without addressing the core cause of violence, the cycle of violence will always persist.
“No matter the charge, everyone deserves fair representation and a chance to turn their life around. People charged with a criminal offense are everyday people fighting for their lives, often against the state or a much larger adversary,” says Attorney Bill Umansky.
#2. Implement Strict Alcohol Policies and Elimination of Illegal drug use
There is a connection between drinking and violence. According to a 2010 study, liquor businesses have a significant association with gun violence. Having a gun while intoxicated with alcohol should be prohibited.
Adopting alcohol policies in the United States and other countries will help reduce crimes associated with alcohol. High alcohol taxes are one of these policies. Reducing the number of alcohol outlets and denying the ability to drink to people who commit crimes after drinking; are also policies that will go a long way in curbing alcohol-related violence.
Drugs also have a significant impact on homicide and other crimes. Excessive drug use has prompted individuals to commit violent crimes. All anti-violence efforts should also focus on hard drugs and their intake reduction.
#3. Prevent Children from Dropping out of School
It is necessary to prevent children from dropping out of school. Students who stay in school have no time to roam around the street and are less likely to commit crimes. They are likely to get solid, well-paying jobs after completing their studies. It limits their desire to participate in illegal activities for monetary gain.
It is getting more challenging to keep track of everyone as the world’s population grows. People also have various personalities, with some predisposed to criminal activity, making society a dangerous place to live. However, there is a need to prevent murders for everyone’s safety.