By Brandon Moseley
On Wednesday, another person was murdered in the city of Mobile. This brings the death toll to 50 and adds to what was already the bloodiest year in the history of the city.
This carnage reflects a national trend. Mobile is the 13th major city nationally to set a new all-time record for homicides thus far this year.
Chicago leads the pack with 739 murders. Philadelphia has seen 521 people murdered thus far this year. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has set a new all-time record with 137 murders. Lexington, Kentucky, set a new record with 36 slayings. Richmond, Virginia, set a new record with 85 homicides.
Murders rose 36% in Los Angeles in 2020 and by 45% in New York City. Those cities have not seen a letdown in their rates of violence.
“It’s a national problem, it’s a state problem, but that doesn’t make you feel any better when you see two people get murdered," Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said during his State of the City address earlier this month.
Mobile has hired a new police chief in Paul Prine to deal with the crime situation.
"Making Mobile the safest city in America with respect for everyone isn't just a slogan, it's a promise," Prine said. "We strive to keep our promise by providing fair and equal law enforcement to all citizens."
Prine recently pointed out that despite the spike in murders, total felonies are on the decline and burglaries are down 17%.
Stimpson said in a statement on social media in November when he was sworn in for another term, “There is no function of government more important than public safety, and protecting Mobile remains one of the administration’s top priorities. In the next term, we’ll be continuing to innovate the way our police, fire and medical services are provided to the public. We'll be implementing new gunshot detection technologies and drawing plans for new public safety facilities that will make Mobile a safer place to live. We’ll also be working with our governmental partners to make sure that our laws and our courtrooms provide first responders with the tools needed to do their jobs effectively.”
In 2020, the FBI's Uniform Crime Report reported that there were 21,570 murders (including non-negligent manslaughters in 2020, up from 16,425 murders in 2019). The FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report for 2020 showed that the number of homicides increased nearly 30% from 2019. This was the largest single-year increase the agency has recorded since it began tracking these crimes in the 1960s and 2021 appears poised in preliminary numbers to be on pace to surpass 2020. Over 1.2 million Americans received treatment for assaults in 2020. This is the most violent two-year period in this country since the early 1990s.
Governments around the country responded to that drug-fueled wave of violence by getting tough on crime, passing longer prison sentences and radically increasing investments in police forces, including the historic crime bill of 1994. The result was increased incarcerations, but crimes in all classes dropped precipitously.
The trend in recent years has been to reduce prison sentences, deal less harshly with parole violators, adopt community corrections instead of incarceration, reform bail procedures, and close prisons. Critics of the recent justice reform efforts blame those efforts for putting more criminals on the streets and the corresponding rise in levels of violence.
The anti-police narrative by some has contributed to the rise in attacks on law enforcement. The Defund the Police Movement cut resources for law enforcement in many major cities in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic and a violent crime spree. Attacks on law enforcement have risen and according to some press reports, law enforcement retirements nationally are up 45% this year. It has also gotten much harder to recruit young people into law enforcement as a career.
Others blame the proliferation of guns in the United States for the increased levels of violence and the killing spree.
The 2020 data shows the US homicide rate increased from about six homicides per 100,000 people in 2019 to 7.8 per 100,000 in 2020. This is the highest recorded rate in the United States since 1995 but is still significantly lower than the rates in the early 1980s, which topped 10 homicides per 100,000 people.
(Original reporting by Lagniappe, CNN, the Alabama Media Group, and NBC WPMI Channel 15 in Mobile contributed to this report.)
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.