Oct 12, 2021 - News
Ohio's homicide rate highest in decades
Illustration of boarded up homes, broken windows, and chain link fence in the shape of a firearm.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The number of homicides in Ohio rose last year to its highest mark in three decades and once again exceeded the national rate, according to statistics released by the FBI.

Why it matters: These estimated figures reinforce data showing a surge in homicides and violent crimes the past two years in Columbus and other major Ohio cities.

  • Legal experts believe social-economic changes brought about by the pandemic, such as an increase in unemployment, could be behind these spikes, Axios' Russell Contreras reports.

By the numbers: Columbus saw a record number of homicides in 2020 (175) and is well on pace to surpass that in 2021.

  • The city recorded its 167th homicide this year with a fatal shooting over the weekend, per WBNS.
  • Homicide rates per 100,000 Ohioans rose 40% between 2019 and 2020, the biggest increase seen over the past 35 years.
  • The rate of violent crime offenses — which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — rose by 4%.

Yes, but: The overall rate of violent crime in Ohio did not jump last year as much as the homicide rate did and remains well under the national rate.

Chart showing the rate of homicides per 100k people in Ohio and the U.S.
Data: FBI; Chart: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: The Columbus Division of Police partnered with researchers at the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) to study more than 100 homicides from a nine-month stretch in 2020.

What they found: Seventeen active street gangs with a total of around 480 group members are confirmed to be responsible for 36% of those homicides.

  • Another 10% of those homicides have suspected gang-involvement, said LaShanna Potts, an assistant police chief, at a recent press briefing.
  • "A large percentage of the violence is being driven by a very small segment of this population," Potts said.

What's next: Potts and other city leaders outlined a number of crime prevention programs being ramped up in the wake of this homicide spike.

  • Group Violence Intervention, a strategy pioneered by NNSC director David Kennedy, calls for directly engaging with gang members to discourage violence and offer social services help.
Graph of rate of violent crime offenses per 100k people in Ohio and the U.S.
Data: FBI; Chart: Axios Visuals
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