After U.S. homicide totals rose in the past two years, city leaders from coast to coast say that, flush with federal pandemic-relief funds, they are pumping money into crime prevention programs that have demonstrated early promise. Police chiefs are using advanced data to target places and people for intervention as they attempt to mend badly strained neighborhood ties. Communities are rising up against those most responsible for the deaths. The result, some officials and experts say, may be a good opportunity to break the trend of spiraling homicide numbers, the Washington Post reports.
Challenges remain, including a flood of illegal guns, police departments stretched thin by attrition and a pandemic that continues to defy predictions of its demise. Evidence that the pendulum could be swinging toward safer streets is visible in cities such as Boston, Charlotte and Dallas, all of which recorded significant reductions in homicides last year, as cities such as Chicago and Philadelphia drew far more attention for their continued surges. In St. Louis, whose 2020 total was the highest in history, saw homicides last year falling almost 26 percent. Mayor Tishaura Jones said that’s no cause for celebration, given that nearly 200 people were killed. Jones said the trend is an indication that her strategy of addressing violent crime at its source — by reducing poverty, engaging young people and allowing police to focus their energies on the worst offenders — can achieve results. Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, who faces reelection next February, has said this is “a make-or-break year” for halting the city’s rise in homicides, which exceeded 800 in 2021. In Indianapolis, Police Chief Randal Taylor is focused on mending ties between the police and the community. It’s the only way, he said, that his force can make a meaningful impact on a death count last year that hit 271 — the highest on record.