On Monday morning, Louisville Democratic mayoral candidate Craig Greenberg was at his campaign headquarters preparing for a meeting when a bullet grazed his sweater.
“A man entered our office. When we approached him, he pulled out a gun, pointed it at me, and began shooting “Greenberg stated this during a press conference after the shooting.
Greenberg described himself as “shaken but safe,” but his experience is just one example of an increase in violent crime seen across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A look at cities across the United States reveals a trend of more violent crimes as the pandemic fades, though the magnitude of that trend varies by city. In terms of murders, rapes, and felony assaults, New York City police recorded 474 crimes between February 7 and February 13, up from 350 the same week last year.
According to police data in Los Angeles, violent crimes reported in 2022 have hovered near the same rates seen at this time in 2020, before the pandemic had fully taken hold of the country. So far in 2022, Los Angeles has reported 2,752 violent crimes, a slight increase from the 2,633 violent crimes reported at the same time in 2020.
To date, 74 murders have been reported in Chicago this year. According to Chicago police, this figure has increased by 7% since the same time in 2021, 40% since 2020, and 100% since 2019.
As of Feb. 15, the Houston Police Department reported 62 homicides in 2022, a 32% increase from the same date last year, when the city had 47.
The department reported 476 murders or cases of non-negligent manslaughter in 2021, up from 392 in 2020.
As of Feb. 13, the Metro Police Department in Louisville had reported 21 homicides in 2022, one fewer than this time last year.
In 2021, the city had 185 homicides. In line with other U.S. cities, that figure increased slightly from 150 cases in 2020 to 88 cases in 2019.
Since 2013, homicides in Philadelphia have steadily increased. Recently, the city’s police department reported 356 homicides in 2019, 499 in 2020, and 562 in 2021. So far in 2022, there have been 64 homicides in Philadelphia, a 4% decrease from this time last year.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of fatal shootings in rural areas, as well as in urban areas.
With the midterm elections quickly approaching, some Republicans have sought to portray Democrats as soft on crime, as violence has become an increasingly prominent topic on the campaign trail. Nonetheless, while violent crime has increased during the pandemic, it is still nowhere near the levels seen in the 1980s and 1990s.
According to FBI crime data, violent crime peaked around 1991, with a rate of around 758 violent crimes per 100,000 people. After a decade, the rate fell sharply to around 504, and in 2011, it was around 387.
While the FBI’s data is only available until 2020, violent crime rates increased to nearly 400 that year, up from around 380 in 2019.
During the same period, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the murder rate in the United States increased by 30% between 2019 and 2020, the largest single-year increase since at least 1905 but possibly ever.
The increase in 2020 was far greater than the 20% increase reported in 2001, a figure boosted significantly by the fatalities from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
According to James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, the violence in 2020 will be a “one-of-a-kind situation” caused by the pandemic, racial and politically motivated conflicts, and people having too much free time.
However, Robert Anderson, chief of the National Center for Health Statistics’ mortality statistics branch, cautioned against linking the violence too closely to the pandemic.