By Mary Wisniewski
Jan 3 (Reuters) - The bad news continues for the financially
troubled city of Detroit, where the number of homicides jumped 9
percent last year, according to data released on Thursday.
Detroit's total of 411 homicides, up from 377 the previous
year, includes 386 criminal homicides and 25 "justifiable
homicides" that included 3 shootings by police, according to
numbers released by the city.
The number of criminal homicides was up from 344 in 2011 -
an increase of 12 percent. The total in 2010 was 308.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder late last month appointed a
financial review team for Detroit, the latest development in a
process that could lead the city to file for the biggest-ever
U.S. municipal bankruptcy. The city has been hit by a steep
population decline and years of budget deficits.
Cities across the country are releasing their 2012 crime
statistics. In some cases, such as New York City, where the
murder rate dropped to an apparent record low, the totals have
been cause for celebration. In others, such as Chicago, where
the number of murders topped 500 for the first time in four
years, it has been a source of shame.
Chicago gained international attention last year for its
increased rate of murders, mostly shootings. Its total for 2012
was 506, up nearly 17 percent from 433 in 2011.
But Detroit's numbers are higher proportionally -- Detroit
has a population of 706,585 according to the 2011 U.S. Census
estimate, while Chicago's population is almost four times that
size at about 2.7 million.
The total in Detroit works out to one homicide per 1,719
people, compared with 1 in 5,336 people in Chicago.
In a statement, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said the release of
the statistics "reminds us of the senselessness of crime and
violence in our community; the challenges facing our police
force; and the need to improve conflict resolution and other
Another Great Lakes city where homicides spiked last year
was Cleveland, Ohio, which had 97 murders, up from 74 in 2011
and 84 in 2010. With a population of 393,816, that works out to
1 murder for every 4,060 people.
"I attribute it to young men with low IQs carrying big guns.
It is just the reality of it," said Cleveland Councilman Michael
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and other
officials have blamed the homicide surge in the Windy City on a
splintering of the city's traditional gangs and the rise of new
factions vying for control of the its south and west sides. He
also noted that the city has a proliferation of illegal
firearms, especially compared with New York or Los Angeles.
New York reported 414 murders as of Dec. 28, although it has
more than three times the population of Chicago. New York's
murder rate amounts to one killing per 19,915 people. Los
Angeles police reported 294 murders through Dec. 22, 2012, up
from 291 in the same period of 2011, in a population of almost
John Hagedorn, an associate professor of criminal justice at
the University of Illinois at Chicago, said that unlike the
1990s, when there was a "real gang war" going on, violence in
Chicago is more spontaneous and uncontrollable by gang leaders,
community workers or police officers.
"The root of violence in Chicago today is in the desperate
conditions in the black community and alienation of black youth,
not some gang war that could be ended by suppression or
negotiation," Hagedorn said.
In other cities, Philadelphia police reported 331 homicides
in 2012, up from 324 in 2011, in a population of almost 1.54
million. That amounts to 1 in 4,642.
St. Louis recorded 113 murders in 2012, the same as in 2011,
for a population of 318,069, or one murder per 2,815 people.
This was well below the average of 141 murders for the previous
five years, said St. Louis Police Captain Michael Sack.
"We're trending in the right direction," Sack said. But he
added that it was difficult to pinpoint a reason. He noted that
the department has been engaging in "hot spot policing" to
target areas where violent crime occurs.
New Orleans reported 193 murders in 2012, a small drop from
199 in 2011, according to the New Orleans Police Department. New
Orleans has a population of 360,740, which puts its murder rate
at 1 per 1,869 residents.
Washington, D.C. reported 88 murders in 2012, the lowest
total since 1961, according to D.C. police. The population is
617,996, putting the murder rate at one for every 7,023 people.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski and James Kelleher in Chicago,
Tim Bross in St. Louis, Ian Simpson in Washington, D.C., and Kim
Palmer in Cleveland; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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