Friday, October 23, 2020

Murders and Aggravated Assaults Rise as Burglaries Fall

Posted By on Fri, Oct 23, 2020 at 1:00 PM

  • Memphis Police Department/Facebook
The University of Memphis Public Safety Institute (PSI) and the Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission released preliminary crime figures from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).  The figures cover crimes committed between January and September and reflect significant changes between the months of April to September.

In the first quarter of 2020 major violent crime had been trending downward with a drop of 5.2 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2019. A chief cause of the fall was a decline in reported robberies and aggravated assaults. Despite the initial fall major violent crime rose by 17.6 percent by the end of the third quarter of 2020.

The increase in major violent crime is directly tied to the significant increase in murders throughout Memphis. Murders were up 62.7 percent in the city of Memphis and 55.1 percent countywide. Aggravated assaults were up 27.2 percent in the city of Memphis and 26.6 percent throughout the county. In both instances, the victims were most likely to know each other.

The report also found that during the COVID-19 months of April to September, the number of reported robberies fell, continuing a three-year streak of downward decline. September marked a 14.7 percent drop in random robberies in the city and a 15.5 percent drop throughout Shelby County. Since 2016 reported robberies have plummeted nearly 35 percent citywide.

Property crime was also heavily affected during the COVID-19 months of April to September. Throughout Memphis, property crime fell 12.2 percent and in the county was down 11.7 percent. Notably, the burglary rate was down 27.5 percent in the city of Memphis and 26.3 percent countrywide. The joint PSI and Shelby County Crime Commission report acknowledged that the lowered property crime numbers are possibly due to the number of people at home during the day due to the COVID-19 pandemic acting as a potential deterrent to would-be burglars.

Since 2016 the number of burglaries in and around Memphis have continued to fall. In 2016 there were 6,832 burglaries during the first three quarters of the year. Today the number stands at 4,055, which represents a 40.5 percent drop in reported burglaries.

Bill Gibbons, the president of the Crime Commission and executive director of the PSI stated that while the rise in murders and aggravated assaults mirror a nationwide increase in violent crime.

“The increases in murders and aggravated assaults are occurring in cities across the country during the pandemic. We are not alone. Many of these crimes involve perpetrators and victims who know each other, which probably reflects the increased stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, we can be encouraged by continuing and consistent declines in robberies and burglaries. While still a problem, the chances of being a random victim of a robbery or burglary are down considerably.”

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