Sep 10, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Survey: Homicides down midyear as overall violent crime jumps

A Citi Bike sits at the scene of a shooting with yellow tape in Manhattan as a officer looks.
A Citi Bike sits at the scene of a shooting in New York City. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Homicides in major U.S. cities are dropping in 2022, but total violent crime continues to rise, according to a midyear survey of large law enforcement agencies.

Why it matters: The annual midyear survey shows that violent crime rates still haven't returned to pre-pandemic levels, but homicides and rapes in some cities appear to be falling.

By the numbers: Overall violent crime spiked 4.2% from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2022, compared to the same period as last year, the survey by the Major Cities Chiefs Association found.

  • Robbery skyrocketed by nearly 12% and aggravated assaults increased by around 3%, the survey of 70 agencies found.
  • Homicides decreased by 2.4% and rapes fell by 5% in major cities, offering hope that some of the most violent crimes might be leveling off from significant increases in 2020, as reported to the FBI.

Yes, but: Compared to 2019 midyear figures, the same cities in total have experienced a 50% increase in homicides and a roughly 36% increase in aggravated assaults.

  • And not all cities are experiencing declines in homicides. So far this year, Atlanta has seen a whopping 20% jump in homicides, while New Orleans has experienced a nearly 40% spike.
  • Baltimore, Dallas, Phoenix, and Denver also have seen jumps in homicides this year, while Albuquerque, Houston, Detroit, and Miami are experiencing declines.

What they're saying: "The socio-economic issues associated with the pandemic...it's leading to a lot of incidents on the street where we're seeing these spontaneous assaults," Robert Arcos, chief of the Bureau of Investigation in the Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney, told Axios.

  • Arcos said cities that aggressively tackle homelessness, addiction, and mental health might see drops in some crime, but homicides are hard to predict.
  • "We still don't have enough officers, and we have shortages everywhere," National Association of Chiefs of Police senior vice president Brian C. Smith told Axios.

Zoom out: The annual midyear Violent Crime Survey by the Major Cities Chiefs Association isn't official crime data, but it's used to gauge crime trends ahead of the release of the FBI Uniform Crime Report that comes out in October.

Between the lines: Crime is the one issue where Republicans consistently outperform Democrats in generic polls ahead of the midterms, and rising crime may offer a lifeline to the GOP in close races where abortion is driving a shift to Democrats.

  • Maryland's Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is using his final weeks in office to launch a new "tough on crime" offensive to chart a political future as a mainstream alternative to former President Trump.
  • Meanwhile, Democrats in states like Ohio, Georgia, and Florida are spotlighting law enforcement to boost their credibility in fighting crime.

Don't forget: Nearly 40% of law enforcement agencies nationwide, including the New York City Police Department and Los Angeles Police Department, failed to report their 2021 crime data to the FBI, according to data provided to Axios Local from a partnership with The Marshall Project.

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