The FBI reported a nearly 30% increase in homicides in 2020 over 2019, the largest single-year spike since the bureau started tracking crime statistics six decades ago. Violent crime also increased 5% in the same time period, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.
21,570 homicides were recorded in 2020 while several major cities have seen their homicide numbers continue to spike in the current year.
Preliminary data released earlier in the year showed murder had spiked by 20% in 2020. The updated figures ultimately exceeded preliminary numbers by close to 10%. The numbers are also an incomplete assessment as just 15,897 of the eligible 18,619 law enforcement agencies submitted data to the FBI last year.
Most major cities saw a massive spike in homicide and other violent crime in 2020. The mostly ongoing crime wave spiked following COVID lockdowns and BLM riots that led to defunding and scaling back of police forces in major cities. Several cities, including Seattle, Milwaukee and Louisville set homicide records in 2020. On a state level, Wisconsin saw murder spike 62%, one of the highest jumps in the nation.
A mid-year report issued by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a coalition of the nation’s largest police agencies, found that homicides continued to rise in 2021. The group reported that murders were running ahead of last year by a count of 4,033 to 3,341 at the same time in 2020. The agencies also reported increases in rape and aggravated assault.
In Philadelphia, homicides have increased by 18% over this time last year. The city, which now has the highest per-capita murder rate among the country’s largest cities, is on pace to surpass 500 homicides in 2021. This would break a record set in 1990.