Philadelphia has shattered its 30-year-old record for annual murders, surpassing the much larger cities of New York and Los Angeles as a dozen major cities post all-time records for homicides with several weeks still left in the year.
As of December 6, Philadelphia had recorded 521 homicides for the year, surpassing New York’s 443 and Los Angeles at 352.
This is despite the fact that with a population of 1.5 million, the City of Brotherly Love is less than half the size of Los Angeles and one-fifth of New York.
Though Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, which leads the nation with 739 murders this year, remain below their murder records set in the 1990s, at least dozen large mid-tier cities across the country have already broken their annual records.
The grim trend follows national calls to defund police departments, and in some cities, reforms to bail rules that critics claim let dangerous offenders loose pending trial.
Robert Boyce, a retired chief of detectives for the New York Police Department, blamed the nationwide murder surge on a sharp decline in arrests and pre-trial detention.
‘Nobody’s getting arrested anymore,’ Boyce told ABC News. ‘People are getting picked up for gun possession and they’re just let out over and over again.’
At least dozen large mid-tier cities across the country have already broken their annual homicide records
As of December 6, Philadelphia had recorded 521 homicides for the year, surpassing New York’s 443 and Los Angeles at 352
Despite Philadelphia blowing past the prior record of 500 murders set in 1990, the city’s progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner, a champion of bail and police reform, insists that there is no crime wave.
‘We don’t have a crisis of lawlessness, we don’t have a crisis of crime, we don’t have a crisis of violence,’ Krasner said in a testy exchange with reporters on Monday, noting that violent crimes committed without guns are down.
‘There is not a big spike in crime — that is not true. There is also not a big spike in violent crime, either,’ Krasner insisted.
Krasner has said that the true crisis is ‘gun violence’ and argued that better education and healthcare services would reduce violent crime.
He also blamed the police for a low clearance rate, noting last month that just 27 percent of gun homicides and 15 percent of non-fatal shootings have resulted in arrest.
Among the dozen cities setting new homicide records this year, five shattered previous records that were set the year before, in 2020: Indianapolis, Indiana; Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Toledo, Ohio; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Four other cities have blown past records set during the crime wave of the 1980s and 90s: St. Paul, Minnesota; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; and Rochester, New York.
Tucson, Arizona broke the prior murder record it had set in 2008.
At least dozen large mid-tier cities across the country have already broken their annual homicide records this year
In progressive Portland, soaring crime prompted the city council to last month restore $5.2 million of the $15 million it cut from police budgets during last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
Portland has recorded more murders this year than much larger San Francisco, and has roughly twice as many homicides as its larger neighbor, Seattle.
‘Many Portlanders no longer feel safe,’ Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, acknowledged. ‘And it is our duty, as leaders of this city, to take action and deliver better results within our crisis response system.’
Portland’s police department has struggled to keep up with the soaring crime rate amid an acute staffing shortage and budget cuts.
The liberal Pacific Northwest city has responded by implementing novel solutions aimed at improving safety, including adding traffic barrels to prevent drive-by shootings and suspending minor traffic stops so officers can focus on immediate threats.
So far this year, Portland has had more than 1,000 shootings, at least 314 people have been injured by bullets, and guns have accounted for three-quarters of homicides.
Police attribute much of the gun violence to gangs, fights and retaliation killings, but the shooting wave is also killing and injuring innocent bystanders.
‘Many Portlanders no longer feel safe,’ Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, recently acknowledged. Wheeler is seen above in August, standing left alongside Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell
Homicides are up in Portland, Oregon, breaking the record of 66 set in 1987, and police staffing is down. As of early December, Portland has now reached at least 72 homicides
In Indianapolis, the capital city of Indiana, the murder tally shattered last year’s record high in early November.
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, has blamed what he calls the ‘public health crisis’ of gun violence.
After the city passed its murder record, Hogsett in a statement to Indianapolis Star said that ‘COVID-fueled disruptions to violence reduction have had lasting effects’ in the city.
‘We continue to encourage all residents to do their part to resolve disputes without guns, and to work with law enforcement to hold accountable those who choose violence,’ Hogsett said.
In Ohio’s capital city, Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther proposed boosting funding to recruit new police officers after the city broke its homicide record for the second year running.
‘We know, based on data and information, it’s a very small number to folks that are committing the overwhelming majority of violent acts in our community,’ Gitner, a Democrat, said last month, urging residents to share tips about crimes with police.
‘We need to bring these folks to justice, get them off our streets to help make our neighborhoods safer,’ he said.
In Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer has said that the city’s rising crime and shortage of police officers reflect nationwide issues and trends across the country.
‘It’s not an excuse. These are our problems here, but again we need to understand there is a bigger context to solving the problem,’ Fisher, a Democrat, told the city council last month.
Austin’s murder rate broke the longest-standing record of the dozen cities, recording more more homicides this year than the city has seen since 1984.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, a Democrat, insisted last month that while homicides are increasing, the progressive Texas capital is still a safe city.
‘Those numbers are going up and in cities across the country,’ Adler told KTBC-TV last month. ‘But even with those numbers going up, our [per capita] murder rate lost and is still one of the lowest among major cities.’