Homicide rates remain high after historically violent 2020 – The North State Journal


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Protesters clash with police early on Saturday, June 5, 2021 (AP Photo / Christian Monterrosa)

RALEIGH – Last year broke homicide records for a number of North Carolina municipalities – including Charlotte and Greensboro – and these high levels of violence do not appear to be returning to previous levels, data for the top six show months of 2021 provided to North State Journal of local police departments. The problem is compounded by a simultaneous increase in law enforcement recruitment and retention problems.

North Carolina’s largest city, Charlotte, recorded 123 homicides in 2020, the highest number in their history. But according to Katherine Acosta, information officer with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, the city recorded 53 homicides in the first half of 2021, which is even higher than the 48 they had at the same time in 2020.

Charlotte’s murder rate had already seen a dramatic increase, from 57 in 2018 to 108 in 2019, ahead of the record 123 in 2020.

At the end of the year, CMPD chief Johnny Jennings said on social media: “The number of homicides this year [2020] is devastating and unhappy. Some people quickly resort to lethal force as a method to solve their problems. “

UNC Charlotte’s Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology Chairman Michael Turner told the NSJ in a July 5 email that criminologists are often better at counting homicides than they are at identifying reasons of any change, because “the explanatory factors are numerous and quite complex.”

“There is little agreement among criminologists as to why homicide rates are increasing,” Turner said. “Some think it’s the increase in guns, some think citizens have a high level of distrust of the police, some think the police have resisted engaging in volatile situations by fear of bad press / video, and some believe hospitals may be overcapacity due to COVID and not able to handle trauma to the same degree as in the past. ”

Whatever the reasons, that homicide spike for 2020 was not just in North Carolina, but across the country. California announced on July 1 that their final figures for 2020 were 31% higher than the previous year – a 13-year high. This closely matched national trends which showed that 2020 saw a 30% increase over 2019, according to the Council on Criminal Justice. Some cities saw an even higher peak, such as Chicago with a 50% increase.

In addition to Charlotte’s 2020 homicide spike, the CMPD has also seen an increase in officer departures, with 131. But as with homicides, the 2021 numbers are on track to exceed that, with 74 officers leaving the area. strength in the first half compared to 67 at the same point the previous year.

It also follows national trends, with an increase in officer departures across the country in 2020. Due to a staff shortage, Asheville announced in June that it would stop responding to 10 petty crimes, including thefts. under $ 1,000 without suspicious information, frauds and scams. , and simple assaults reported after the fact. According to Christina Hallingse, head of information at the DPA, the department has lost 87 agents since January 1, 2020, 84 of them being resignations, two retirements and one layoff.

Asheville also saw a peak in homicides in 2020, with 10 for the small town; the record is 12. In 2021, they already have five homicides and the peak of the summer has only just begun.

Greensboro Police Department Information Officer Ron Glenn told the NSJ that the summer will largely determine the ultimate number of homicides for Greensboro, which has recorded its highest number of homicides in the city ​​history in 2020, at 61.

Glenn said the city saw 22 homicides at this time last year, and after the first half of this year they saw 19 – a slight drop from the pace of their record year.

Down I-40 in Durham, they see a sharp increase in homicides so far in 2021, a year after 2020 which has seen the most shootings in their history. Lt. GL Minor of the Durham Police Department Public Affairs Unit told the NSJ in a July 6 email that in the first six months of 2021 there were 21 homicides, up from 14 in the same time last year, an increase of 50%.

One factor behind the murders, which has not always been highlighted, is the overwhelming racial disparity among the victims. In Asheville’s 10 homicides in 2020, eight victims were black. In Greensboro, 51 of 61 victims were black and only seven were white, although white and black citizens each make up just over 40% of the city’s population. In California’s recent announcement about their 2020 peak, they said 33% of homicide victims in 2020 were black, despite making up just 6.5% of the state’s population.

According to the most recent mortality data from the CDC, this disparity makes homicide the number one killer of black men under 44, with about 35% of deaths for ages 1 to 19 and 28% for those aged 1 to 19. 20 to 44 years old. By comparison, only 5% of deaths among white men aged 1 to 19 and 3% of deaths among white men aged 20 to 44 are due to homicide.

Turner, the UNC Charlotte criminologist, said there was a note of optimism: “Although 2020 appears to have been a record increase in homicide rates, these rates remain below where they were at. early to mid-1990s. “

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