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Police Chiefs Compilation Confirms That Big-City Killings Fell Last Year

Homicides fell in many large cities last year but were still above pre-pandemic levels. The number of killings dropped five percent in 70 big cities in 2022 from a year prior, says a report released Thursday by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents police chiefs from large cities, says the Wall Street Journal. A separate report from the think tank Council on Criminal Justice found that killings declined four percent between 2021 and 2022 in 27 major U.S. but noted that the homicide rate was still 34 perent higher than it was in 2019. Rising murder totals since the onset of the pandemic turned crime into a top issue in many local elections. Law-enforcement agencies have been trying to tamp down shootings in cities and rural areas.

Criminologists and law enforcement leaders say conditions that drove the violence up in 2020 and 2021, such as police pulling back on enforcement after racial-justice protests over the murder of George Floyd and a pandemic pause in gang-violence prevention programs, are receding. “We’re beyond the height of the pandemic and we’re quite a ways from the George Floyd incident,” said criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis . Most of the nation’s largest cities—including New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia—reported declines in homicides, according to the Major Cities Chiefs report. Deputy Los Angeles Police Chief Kris Pitcher said the return of violence prevention and youth programs, as well as social institutions like churches and schools that can now meet in person, have contributed to bringing down the violence. Los Angeles reported 382 homicides in 2022, compared with 397 in 2021. The Major Cities Chiefs Association study found that the number of reported rapes in the 70 cities dropped five percent in 2022 from 2021, while robberies rose five percent and aggravated assaults increased less than one percent. The FBI isn’t expected to release national crime figures for 2022 until much later this year.

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