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The US saw significant crime rise across major cities in 2020. And it's not letting up

April 3, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 21.6%. 3 min read.

<<enter caption here>> on May 27, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

Major American cities saw a 33% increase in homicides last year as a pandemic swept across the country, millions of people joined protests against racial injustice and police brutality, and the economy collapsed under the weight of the pandemic — a crime surge that has continued into the first quarter of this year.

(CNN)Major American cities saw a 33% increase in homicides last year as a pandemic swept across the country, millions of people joined protests against racial injustice and police brutality, and the economy collapsed under the weight of the pandemic — a crime surge that has continued into the first quarter of this year.

Sixty-three of the 66 largest police jurisdictions saw increases in at least one category of violent crimes in 2020, which include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, according to a report produced by the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

"The people in our communities are not desensitized to violence," said Ray Kelly, the lead community liaison for the Consent Decree Monitoring Team and the director of the Citizens Policing Project and lifelong resident of West Baltimore.

Experts point to a "perfect storm" of factors -- economic collapse, social anxiety because of a pandemic, de-policing in major cities after protests that called for abolition of police departments, shifts in police resources from neighborhoods to downtown areas because of those protests, and the release of criminal defendants pretrial or before sentences were completed to reduce risk of Covid-19 spread in jails -- all may have contributed to the spike in homicides.

Police departments were often forced to shift officers from neighborhoods where violent crime occurs to downtown areas to staff protests.

Police in St. Louis staffed 160 protests downtown last summer, according to that city's police commissioner, Col. John Hayden Jr.

Baltimore, one of the three jurisdictions in the MCCA report that did not report any increase in violent crime, also experienced largely peaceful protests without the level of unrest and looting that took place in some other cities.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said this is where the correlation can be drawn between the crime rise and the shifting of police resources, especially in cities that saw large scale protests over the course of several months.

But the city of Baltimore's modest decrease in violent crime last year is "nothing to celebrate," Harrison added, because the city's numbers are significantly higher than most with 335 homicides last year compared to 348 in 2019.

Gray's death sparked weeks-long protests and riots in the city with calls to end excessive use of police force.

Ray Kelly said Baltimore's federal consent decree helped to prevent the city's crime numbers from increasing last year because it has "impacted how the Baltimore Police Department performs its duties. "

Both Ferguson and Baltimore are case studies in examining the influence of de-policing on crime rates, as both cities experienced an increase in violence and a strained relationship between police and communities immediately following the killings.

"It's not that the protests caused the rise in violence," said Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer and professor in the Department of Law, Police Science, and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Kelly said the national rise in violence can be associated with police forces that are "stretched to the limit" in dealing with protests and coronavirus restrictions.

St. Louis saw a significant increase in homicides after protests in June 2020, its commissioner said.

"People are revictimized when violent crime offenders are not held accountable by the criminal justice system," said Cooper, the head of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

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