Superintendent David Brown, the head of the Chicago Police Department, noted that the four deaths were the fewest in a decade, but said it was too soon to celebrate. “It’s a long summer,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.
Given the high numbers in 2020, no rapid decrease should be anticipated this year — the hangover from any significant crime wave continues after the peak is reached, the police and criminologists said.
“Even though the pandemic is receding, it casts a really long shadow, along with the social unrest related to policing,” said Max Kapustin, an assistant professor of economics and public policy at Cornell University who studies crime.
Overall crime figures were down during the coronavirus pandemic. Rape, robbery and petty thefts — which constitute the vast bulk of the numbers — tend to be crimes of opportunity, and with people staying home and businesses shuttered, there were far fewer chances. Those numbers should rebound as life across the United States returns to more normal patterns, analysts said.
Homicides were a notable exception, however, with almost every major city in the United States seeing large increases in 2020. In Chicago and several other cities, last year was the worst year for killings since the mid-1990s.
Homicides in Portland, Ore., rose to 53 from 29, up more than 82 percent; in Minneapolis, they grew to 79 from 46, up almost 72 percent; and in Los Angeles the number increased to 351 from 258, a 36 percent climb, according to statistics analyzed by Jeff Asher, a former crime analyst for the New Orleans Police Department.
Those increases have continued in many cities this year.
Homicides in Philadelphia are up almost 28 percent, with 170 through May 9, compared with 133 in the same period last year; in Tucson, Ariz., the number jumped to 30 from 17 through May 13, an increase of 76 percent.