U.S. sees huge surge in murders – biggest increase ever recorded

The U.S. saw its murder rate spike in the largest increase in American history during 2020, along with the rising rates in violent crime overall.

The murder rate rose a whopping 29.4 percent with 4,901 more murders in 2020 than in 2019, according to FBI data

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Other violent crimes, which include rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, saw an overall increase as well. As a whole, violent crime rose 5.6%, which is approximately 387.8 offenses per 100,000 people. 

The data, released Monday, assessed 1,277,696 violent crimes and 6,452,038 property crimes, and the data is compiled from about 16,000 agencies in the U.S. 

The FBI started tracking violent crime statistics in 1960. The biggest one-year rise in murders prior to last year was a 12.7% increase in 1968. 

The drastic escalation in violent crime comes as the number of police officers in the U.S. fell dramatically in 2020. Although more departments across the country submitted staffing data than ever before, statistics show there were 551 fewer officers on the streets at every level – local, state, federal, and university.

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Experts have cited many possible reasons and factors for the crime surge, including the pandemic and subsequent government regulations, economic desperation from government lockdowns, increased numbers of people carrying firearms, anti-police sentiment across the country stemming from the high profile death of George Floyd, and the promotion of “defund the police” movements from organizations like Black Lives Matter. 

The data showed a smaller number of uniformed officers even though a larger number of police agencies reported this year. Statistics showed an increase in civilian employees instead, sitting at 3,000 more than 2019. In response to the “defund the police” movement, many agencies either opted or were forced for budgetary reasons to decrease their police staff, though many added social workers in hopes of reshaping how law enforcement agencies deal with criminals. 

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In the other subsections of violent crime, the FBI data showed that aggravated assault increased 12.1%. Rape and robbery rates both fell, with rape at a 12% decrease and robbery at a 9.3% decrease. 

About 77% of murders in 2020 were committed with a firearm, which is a 10% increase from ten years ago, the previous high for murders committed with a firearm.

Louisiana, the state with the highest murder rate in the country, had a homicide rate of 15.8 per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 6.5 people per 100,000. Louisiana has been the deadliest state with respect to murder for 32 years straight. New York City saw a surge in violent crimes, especially in areas like the Bronx, with murders up a shocking 60% this year.

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Those who were victims of property crimes in 2020 lost approximately $17.5 billion. The FBI’s estimate excludes damage committed through arson, however. 

“Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction,” the FBI said in a statement.