By Naveen Athrappully
Cities governed by Democrat mayors have seen the largest increases in homicide rates over the past year as well as registered the highest homicide rate per capita in Q1 out of 45 cities, according to a new report.
Homicide rates in 45 of the most populated American cities rose by approximately 10 percent on average between Q1, 2021 and Q1, 2023, and continue to rise, according to an April 26 report by WalletHub. Blue cities were found to have a higher increase in homicide rates compared to red cities. The report designated a city as red or blue based on the mayor’s political affiliation.
The top five cities that saw the greatest increase in per capita homicide are Richmond, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; Durham, North Carolina; Garland, Texas; and Washington, D.C.
Except for Garland, where Mayor Scott LeMay is a Republican, the remaining four cities have mayors who are affiliated with the Democratic Party.
The highest homicide rate per capita in the first quarter of 2023 was in Memphis at 14.19 per 100,000 residents. New Orleans, Louisiana, came in second at 12.76, followed by Baltimore, Maryland, with 10.47, St. Louis, Missouri, with 9.91, and Detroit, Michigan, with 8.52.
Excluding St. Louis, the other four cities have mayors affiliated with the Democratic Party. The mayor of St. Louis, Tishaura Jones, was a former Democrat member of the Missouri House of Representatives.
Political Reason Behind Spiking Homicides
Gregg W. Etter, a professor at the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Missouri, blamed the tendency of politicians to seek “simplistic, one-size-fits-all solutions to complex problems” as a reason behind the spike in homicides across the nation.
Politicians offer such solutions to gain favor with political interest groups during elections, he pointed out. For instance, when faced with the issue of police using force in isolated instances, such politicians might support defunding the police rather than dealing with problematic officers.
This ends up resulting in a less-effective police force, higher response times, lower morale among officers, and an “increasing unwillingness” to engage in proactive policing, he said.
“This has left many police forces in a strictly reactive mode, only responding to crimes that have already occurred. In addition, no-cash bail rulings have put many dangerous criminals back onto the streets even though they are arrested several times for violent crimes,” Etter said.
“In cities where these two things are happening, the crime rate has spiked. You have less police officers and more dangerous criminals at large.”
Countering the rising homicide trend will require boosting police funding and improved police training to avoid some of the problems resulting from the use of force, he added.
High crime rates have forced businesses to move away from such cities, which reduces the tax base, and ends up costing state congressional seats.
“Until local mayors and governors are willing to seek realistic solutions to problems of the inner cities, rather than political ones, the trend will continue upward,” Etter stated.
Murders Concentrated in a Few Counties
A Jan. 17 report by the Crime Prevention Research Center found that a small number of counties accounted for the vast majority of murders committed in the United States.
“The worst 1 percent of counties (the worst 31 counties) have 21 percent of the population and 42 percent of the murders. The worst 2 percent of counties (62 counties) contain 31 percent of the population and 56 percent of the murders,” the report states.
“The worst 5 percent of counties contain 47 percent of the population and account for 73 percent of murders. But even within those counties, the murders are very heavily concentrated in small areas.”
The concentration of murders is also said to be at its “highest in over a decade.” The 2020 murder rate in the United States was 5.84 per 100,000 people. Removing the worst 5 percent of counties would reduce the murder rate to 2.99 per 100,000.