As of December 6, the city of Philadelphia had 521 homicides on record for the year, easily outnumbering cities like New York, which registered 443 homicides and Los Angeles with 352. It's a particularly concerning number when you consider the fact that Philadelphia is just one fifth the size of New York City and less than half the size of Los Angeles.
Other cities that join Philadelphia in shattering their homicide records include Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Rochester, New York; Louisville, Kentucky; Tucson, Arizona; Saint Paul, Minnesota; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Toledo, Ohio.
Four of these cities – Austin, Rochester, Saint Paul and Portland – broke records that were set during crime waves in the 1980s and 1990s.
According to experts, some of the reasons behind the jump in homicides include a lack of sufficient law enforcement staffing, continuing pandemic hardships and a significant decline in arrests.
Despite Philadelphia breaking its previous record of 500 murders, which was set back in 1990, the city's progressive District Attorney, Larry Krasner, maintains that there is no crime wave there. Known for championing police and bail reform, Krasner said the real crisis going on in the city is “gun violence.”
He said: “We don't have a crisis of lawlessness, we don't have a crisis of crime, we don't have a crisis of violence.”
“There is not a big spike in crime — that is not true. There is also not a big spike in violent crime, either.”
In an op-ed, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said that Krasner’s comments were “some of the worst, most ignorant and most insulting comments I have ever heard spoken by an elected official.”
He added: “I have to wonder what kind of messed up world of white wokeness Krasner is living in to have so little regard for human lives lost, many of them black and brown, while he advances his own national profile as a progressive district attorney.”
He said that Krasner should commit to actually prosecuting people for their crimes rather than making excuses for them and dropping their charges. He also cited Krasner’s “anti-police narrative” as part of the problem.
It comes as no surprise to see Portland on the list, a city whose Democrat Mayor Ted Wheeler is infamous for his poor handling of the Black Lives Matter protests. The city’s police department has warned residents to expect delays in police answering calls that are not life-threatening due to ongoing staff shortages thanks to the city’s inexplicable enthusiasm for the “defund the police” movement. The city has slashed $15 million from its police budget, and the problem is compounded by the fact that Portland’s prosecutors have failed to charge 70 percent of those arrested by the police.
Although there are lots of factors at play, no one can deny that the lack of police is taking a serious toll, just as many predicted during the calls to defund the police in the wake of the George Floyd incident. Retirement rates in police departments across the nation climbed 45 percent in 2020 and 2021, while another 18 percent of officers resigned around the time of the protests.
Unfortunately, the spike in lethal violence that we’re seeing may well get worse as police departments continue to lose officers due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. When you combine underfunded and understaffed police departments with prosecutors who are essentially looking the other way and letting criminals go free, we’re likely to see many more new homicide records being set throughout the nation before the year is over.
Sources for this article include: