Apr 18, 2024 - News

Columbus homicides down so far in 2024

Members of Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children march down the street in protest of violent crime.

Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children, seen marching downtown in 2021, is spearheading an initiative to keep the city homicide count under 100 this year. Photo: Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides in Columbus are down 58% so far in 2024 compared to the same period last year, one of the largest drops of any major U.S. city with publicly available data.

Why it matters: This is a major reversal from the past few years, when Columbus suffered from record rates of violent crime.

State of play: Homicides surged during the pandemic, with a record 175 killings reported in 2020 and over 200 in 2021.

By the numbers: The Columbus Division of Police recorded 22 murders this year through April 15, per data shared with Axios, the lowest year-to-date total in at least eight years.

  • This is far below 2021 (61 by April 15) and 2023 (52).
  • Seventeen of the 22 homicide victims this year were Black men, nearly all of whom were killed with firearms.

What they're saying: Deputy Chief Smith Weir, who leads the criminal investigations subdivision, told Axios he and other police leaders review these numbers every day, looking for trend lines.

  • Weir is glad to see noticeable improvement so far this year.

Yes, but: "This is certainly not a victory lap," he said, adding this is just one quarter's worth of data.

  • And the positive momentum does not diminish the mourning of 22 people killed, Weir acknowledged.

Between the lines: Crime rates are impacted by so many different variables and no one aspect is driving the recent decline, Weir continued.

  • He said detectives are undergoing more intensive training on solving homicides, which can get repeat criminals off the streets and hopefully prevent some future killings.
  • Weir also credited the community for "stepping up," especially the group Mothers of Murdered Columbus Children.

Zoom in: The group has promoted Operation Under Triple Digits, a citywide initiative to keep this year's homicide count under 100.

  • Columbus hasn't accomplished that in years, but is so far on pace.

The big picture: Our local decline comes as the U.S. is on track to see one of the lowest levels of violent crime and homicides since President Obama was in office.

  • Murders declined by 20% on average across 214 cities during the first three months of 2024 compared to the same period last year, according to AH Datalytics, a criminal justice consulting firm.

The last word: Weir said the police department will be adding security at parks starting later this spring, as it has done in previous years.

  • The goal is to make this year's downward homicide trend a new normal.
  • "Our work is not done. We've still got more work to do."

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