Resilience Smart Cities

Homicides in major US cities increased in 2021, report says

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Story at a glance

  • Homicides in major U.S. cities increased in 2021.
  • Major U.S. cities saw a 5 percent increase in homicides, with an additional 218 murders compared to 2020.
  • According to the report, more than three-quarters of the homicides in 2021 were committed with a gun.

Homicides in major U.S. cities increased in 2021. 

According to a new report by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), major U.S. cities saw a 5 percent increase in homicides, with an additional 218 murders compared to 2020

The report, released Tuesday, analyzed crime data from 22 U.S. cities — including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — and found 16 of the cities saw a rise in homicides over the past year. 

“The elevated rates of homicide and serious assaults require an urgent response from elected leaders,” University of Missouri – St. Louis professor Richard Rosenfeld, the report’s co-author said in a press release. “A year ago, we concluded our 2020 crime report by noting that with so many lives at stake, the time to act is now. That message is as vital today as it was then.” 


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According to the report, more than three-quarters of the homicides in 2021 were committed with a gun.  

“In 2021, we saw a record fraction of homicides committed with a firearm,” Rosenfeld said, adding, “The firearms that make it into circulation in nearly all cases are legally purchased firearms.” 

However, despite the homicide increases, overall the homicide rates are still lower than they were in the 1990s, with the 22 cities reporting about half the number of homicides than 29 years ago — 15 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2021 as compared to 28 deaths per 100,000 in 1993. 

“While it is encouraging to see a slowdown in the recent homicide increase, the bloodshed continues, and at least 10 U.S. cities lost historic numbers of residents to murder last year,” said council senior fellow Thomas Abt. “This is not acceptable.”  


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