(WXYZ) — The FBI has just released crime stats for the year 2020 with some concerning results.
Nationally, homicides were up nearly 30% compared to 2019, and up 31% in Michigan, marking the largest annual increase in over 3 decades.
Roughly 44% of the State's homicides occurred in the City of Detroit.
“The rise in violent crime is real and it’s troubling,” said Detroit Police Chief James White. "There's an uptick in violent crime around the country as well as the City of Detroit. There's a number of factors that contribute to that uptick.”
For the first time since 2016, the City of Detroit reported more than 300 homicides in the FBI's annual crime report, with 328 in 2020. That's a 17% increase from 2019, which had 280 homicides.
The pandemic is taking a lot of the blame, but Chief White says there’s also been a rise in illegal guns on the street and an increase in cases of mental health.
“When you mix illegal weapons and impulse decision making, generally speaking, you’ve got yourself a pretty big problem,” Chief White said.
“I think anytime the homicide rate goes up 30%, that’s an alarming statistic,” said retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent Andy Bartnowak.
Bartnowak previously served as a supervisor on the violent crime task force in the FBI's Detroit field office. He says the agency will take a hard look at these numbers.
“They'll look at the data and then they’ll determine where they can best use their resources, whether it’s to form other task force groups or fund other police initiatives to combat the surge in the homicide rate,” Bartnowak said. “They’re going to look at what cities have seen the most dramatic spikes and I suspect they'll start concentrating their resources on those individual communities and cities.”
On the streets of Detroit, Chief White says the department continually monitors their data. So far in 2021, the City is on track for another rise in homicides with 13 more today than this date last year.
“We look at our data every single day," Chief White said. "We brief on our data and we have seen some monikers of success, but nothing to celebrate.”
It’s a nationwide problem that is having a major impact here in Metro Detroit. Law enforcement agencies say they’re focused on a solution, but need help to get there.
“It's the police and it's the community," Chief White said. "It’s our stakeholders and it's our clergy and it’s our courts and and and... I mean we have to work together at this.”
"It’s got to be a combination of community, police, both the local state and federal government working together and other resources, it's our mental health professionals,” Bartnowak said. "I think everybody works in concert with each other and we’ll start to see these rates go down again.”
Overall nationwide, the FBI reported a 5.6% rise in violent crime, however, property crime fell nearly 8%.