Homicides in major US cities increased in 2021, study finds
Homicides in major US cities rose in 2021, with a 5% increase from 2020 and a 44% increase over 2019, according to a new analysis of crime trends released Tuesday.
The study by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), found an additional 218 murders last year, compared to 2020.
It drew on crime data from 22 cities across the US — including Atlanta, Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Memphis, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
Although six of the 22 cities saw their murder rates drop, murder rates in the other cities increased significantly.
Experts believe pandemic pressures and changes in policing tactics have contributed to the uptick in homicides.
Despite the recent increase, murder rates have dropped considerably across the United States since the 1990s.
The 22 cities included in the study recorded roughly half the number of murders documented 29 years ago — 15 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2021 versus 28 per 100,000 in 1993.
"The social unrest after the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis very likely played a role in [increased homicides], but differences across cities in 2021 suggests that local factors are now becoming more important," said Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who authored the CCJ study.
Rosenfeld's research suggests increased availability of both legal and illegal firearms has played a role in driving up homicide rates.
Aggravated and gun assault rates continued to grow in 2021, with gun assaults jumping 8% last year.
Researchers noted that murders are increasingly being carried out with firearms. According to Tuesday's study, more than three-quarters of reported murders in 2021 were committed with a gun.