Historic and frightening jump in violent crime last year

Just when you thought 2020 couldn't have been any worse, the FBI's Uniform Crime Report presented the data on crime in the United States in 2020.

According to the UCR, the U.S. murder rate rose almost 30 percent in 2020, the largest jump ever reported.  In 2020, there were about 21,500 murders, or 6.5 per 100,000 people.  The previous record was set in 1968 when murders jumped 12.7 percent.

"People seem to have lost all civility, and then you couple that with having to stay home, and being stressed from that, losing your job, losing resources, fear for your health, more guns," Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told CNN in an article.  "I think we need to figure out how we de-conflict our society."

The scary thing is that the UCR is a record of only crimes that have been reported to police agencies.  It does not report crimes that are not reported to the police.  Given the strain between police and the public lately, that number could be significant.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's annual report echoed that number.  The agency reported a 30-percent increase in homicides between 2019 and 2020.  "It is the highest increase recorded in modern history — and confirms through public health data a rise in homicides that so far had been identified only through crime statistics," CNN reported.

The CDC said its previous record was between 2000 and 2001, which included the 2,977 people killed during the September 11 terrorist attacks in the homicide numbers.  However, even with September 11 victims, the homicide increase that year was only 20 percent.

Even the left-leaning Atlantic had to admit, "Big changes in the crime rate correlate with the start of the pandemic and major protests after the murder of George Floyd."  However, the publication is trying to find a less incriminating connection between those factors while at the same time trying to blame the police for the increase.  "The homicide spike is compelling evidence of federal, state, and local government's failure to keep Americans from killing one another, one of the most fundamental tasks of government."

Murder is only one component of violent crime.  The other contributors to violent crime did not increase as much, if at all, last year.  For example, aggravated assault rose 12 percent.  Rape stayed flat, and robbery decreased.

Crime numbers, including violent crime, had been trending downward for decades.  With all the violence and rioting in the streets, and undermining of the police by politicians, it shouldn't be surprising that it has turned in the opposite direction — that is, unless you get your news only from the mainstream media.  I remember seeing reporters on the scenes of the rioting in various cities when I would turn on my television.  The reporters, in some cases, stood in front of burning buildings or near enough to violence that it could be seen in the background.  Yet those same reporters would report that the "protests" were "mostly peaceful."

Those who support defunding the police are not only endangering police lives by undermining public confidence in them.  They are endangering themselves, as the numbers show.  When criminals don't fear the police and politics hinder the police, more people are killed or hurt.

Not only must we support the police in doing their job, which protects us, but we must also make sure they have the training and equipment to do that job.

It took this country decades to get violent crime numbers heading in the right direction.  It won't get back to 1990s levels in a year or even two, but if these past two years are any indication, this country is rushing back to previous highs.  What took us a generation to reduce might reach new highs in half that time if we continue setting new highs for increasing violence.

Michael A. Letts is the CEO and Founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs.

Image via Pixy.

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