Murders and gun assaults in major cities fell in the first half of this year, while the robbery total jumped 19 percent, reports the think tank Council on Criminal Justice.
In 23 cities with available data, the number of homicides was down two percent compared with the first half of 2021. Gun assaults dropped six percent, but that number was based on responses from only 12 cities.
A similar trend on murders and robberies was reported for the first quarter of 2022 by the Major Cities Chiefs Association based on data from 68 cities.
Although the new data represent only part of the nation, the continued high totals in key violent crime categories mean that crime will be a major issue in many midyear election campaigns.
The murder numbers remained 39 percent higher than the first half of 2019, before the COVID-19
“It is heartening to see the homicide numbers fall, even slightly, but American cities continue to lose too many of their residents to bloodshed,” said criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri St. Louis, the study’s co-author, adding that "These elevated levels of violence require an urgent response from elected leaders. We must put evidence-backed strategies in place now to make communities safer.”
The U.S. murder total has dropped sharply since the early 1990s. Last year, the homicide rate for
big cities was about half what it was for those cities 28 years earlier.
This year, nine cities providing data recorded a rise in homicides through June while 14 cities experienced either no change or reductions.
The council found trends in most property crimes reversing from the first two years of the
pandemic. Rising this year were residential burglaries (six percent, nonresidential burglaries (eight percent), and larcenies (20 percent.) Motor vehicle thefts increased 15 percent, a trend began during the early months of the pandemic.
The number of drug offenses fell seven percent.
Citing the increases in robberies and larcenies such as shoplifting and thefts from vehicles, study authors said the uptick could reflect a return to somewhat normal living conditions.
However, the trend in robberies was "far from uniform," the study noted, with 10 cities reporting decreases ranging from one to seventeen percent.
Opportunities for retail theft and commercial robberies are up as stores have reopened, and the increase of people on the streets provides more targets for street robbers.
Another factor may be “destabilizing economic conditions, such as the rise in food, fuel, and housing prices that began in the final months of 2021 and accelerated sharply in the first half of 2022,” the study said.
The study looked at crime rates for 10 offenses in 29 cities, including New York City, Atlanta, Detroit, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Memphis, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
The study authors said that in response to elevated rates of homicide, robbery, and other violent crimes, cities should adopt “comprehensive enforcement, prevention, and intervention efforts that focus on the specific people and places where violence is concentrated.”