Some major US cities have recorded staggering increases in homicides in the first six months of 2020, if compared with the same period in 2019: some increases range from 25% (Philadelphia) to 85% (Minneapolis). This trend is bringing to light a public safety crisis, revealed by a long-term increase in the number of gang-related recorded shootings and reduction of proactive-policing.This has been exacerbated by two further major issues: the recent social and economic impact of the Covid-19-related lockdown and a surge of public protests against police in the U.S in response to widely publicized deadly encounters between the police and African-Americans and the subsequent protests, mostly peaceful but occasionally violent, in U.S. cities. This public safety crisis requires further interrogation and additional disaggregated data analysis if the crisis is to be understood and confronted decisively and effectively.
Long-Term Homicides Trend in the U.S.
In general, the total number of homicides in the USA has been declining in the last years. As illustrated in Chart 1, homicide numbers have been waning since the early 90’s, with the lowest number of homicides since the 60’s recorded in 2014, when 14,610 murders were documented in the United States (Smith E. L. and Cooper A., 2013). Analysis however, show that homicide numbers increased in 2015 and 2016 (Puzzanchera, C., Chamberlin, G., and Kang, W., 2018), with subsequent decreases in the years that follow, 2017 and 2018. FBI UCR 2019 preliminary data show a reduction of -3.9 for homicides in the U.S. in the first months of the year in comparison to the same period in 2018 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d.).