At least 12 major U.S. cities already have set annual homicide records with three weeks remaining in 2021.
Chicago led the nation with 739 homicides as of the end of November. That's up 3% from 2020, according to Chicago Police Department crime data, but well short of the city's 974 homicides in 1970.
ABC News reported that Philadelphia, a city of roughly 1.5 million people, has had more homicides (521 as of Dec. 6) than the nation's two largest cities, New York (443 as of Dec. 5) and Los Angeles (352 as of Nov. 27).
In setting a record for homicides in one year, Philadelphia has seen an increase of 13% from 2020, a year that nearly broke its 1990 mark of 500 homicides.
"It's terrible to every morning get up and have to go look at the numbers and then look at the news and see the stories. It's just crazy. It's just crazy and this needs to stop," Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said, ABC News reported.
Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, and Louisville also set homicide records the same week as Philadelphia.
Other major cities that have surpassed yearly homicide records include St. Paul, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; Tucson, Arizona; Toledo, Ohio; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Austin, Texas; Rochester, New York; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Of the cities that have set records for killings, five topped numbers set or tied in 2020.
"The community has to get fed up," Capt. Frank Umbrino, of the Rochester Police Department, said at a news conference after his city broke its 30-year-old record on Nov. 11. "We're extremely frustrated. It has to stop. I mean, it's worse than a war zone around here lately."
Milwaukee and Minneapolis were among cities close to setting homicide records. Milwaukee’s 178 homicides were 12 short of the city’s record set in 2020. Minneapolis’ 91 homicides were six shy of a record set in 1995.
Several factors likely have contributed to the rise in serious crime around the country. A decrease in police presence due to the defund the police movement, the COVID pandemic, and vaccine mandates have helped create an environment conducive to major crime.
The Oakland City Council, a longtime leader in the Black Lives Matter movement to cut police funding, reversed course Tuesday and voted to hire more officers as it grapples with a surge in homicides and gun violence.
Robert Boyce, retired chief of detectives for the New York Police Department, told ABC that one national crime statistic stood out to him.
"Nobody’s getting arrested anymore," Boyce said. "People are getting picked up for gun possession and they're just let out over and over again."
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