Sep 21, 2022 - News

Violent crime is down significantly in Columbus

Illustration of a spotlight shaped like a police badge.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Violent crime in Columbus dropped by about 28% in the first half of 2022 compared to the same time period in 2021, new city figures show.

Why it matters: Columbus appears to be bucking a national trend. Homicides in major U.S. cities are dropping this year but total violent crime is rising, per a midyear survey of the largest law enforcement agencies.

  • Overall, nationwide, crime rose by about 4% over 2021's first half.

Context: The Major Cities Chiefs Association survey isn't official crime data, but it's used to preliminarily gauge crime trends ahead of October's FBI Uniform Crime Report, Axios' Russell Contreras writes.

By the numbers: Homicides in Columbus are down 38% compared to the first six months of a record-breaking 2021, from 101 to 63.

  • Robberies and aggravated assaults decreased by 39% and 29%, respectively.
  • Robbery has decreased 26% since 2019.

Yes, but: Homicides and aggravated assaults are still higher this year than in 2019,  the first year of data for the now-annual survey. They're up 15% and 7%, respectively.

  • Rape reports have risen every year. This year's 437 is 5% higher than 2021 and 18% higher than 2019.

What's happening: Socioeconomic issues associated with the pandemic are fueling violence, crime researchers tell Axios.

  • Another factor at play is that police departments — including in Columbus — remain understaffed, experts say.

Zoom in: Columbus police spokesperson Sgt. Joe Albert tells Axios a combination of better community relations and more proactive patrols, such as an effort called Operation Unity, is helping remove violent offenders off city streets.

  • But there's still plenty of work to be done, he acknowledged.
  • The division is under the new leadership of Chief Elaine Bryant, following former Chief Thomas Quinlan's resignation in early 2021 amid allegations of police misconduct and calls for reform.

What they're saying: "A relationship between us and the residents of Columbus makes it easier for people to come forward with information," Albert tells Axios. "We're working together toward the same goal."


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