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U.S. Crime Is Still Dramatically Higher Than Before the Pandemic

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Updated: | Originally published:

Homicides and some other violent crimes dropped slightly in the first half of this year compared—but violence in major American cities still remains dramatically higher than it was before the pandemic.

The new statistics come from the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ), which released its mid-year 2022 crime report on Thursday, examining crime data from 29 cities. Homicides decreased by 2% between January and June 2022, compared to the same period in 2021.

However, the slight decrease is less satisfying when considering that homicides hit historic highs in some cities in 2020 and 2021. The homicide numbers for the first half of 2022, which are based on data from 23 cities, are still 39% higher than they were in the same time period of 2019.

“It is heartening to see the homicide numbers fall, even slightly, but American cities continue to lose too many of their residents to bloodshed,” Richard Rosenfeld, a University of Missouri – St. Louis criminologist who co-authored the study said in a press release.

The authors of the report also reviewed property crimes, violent crimes and drug offenses in 29 large cities. Aggravated assaults and robberies both increased by 4% and 19% respectively. Property crimes also increased by 6% while larceny went up by 20%, residential burglaries rose by 6% and motor vehicle thefts jumped up by 15%.

Gun assaults and domestic violence decreased by 6% and 5% respectively, but those numbers are only based on 12 cities. Drug offenses also went down, dropping by 7% compared to last year.

Read more: Mass Shootings Are Only a Small Part of America’s Deadly Problem With Kids and Guns

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, crime, particularly gun violence, has surged across the country. Experts believe the surge has been caused by the stress of the pandemic, as well as the civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd. Some also blame a pullback by police that followed the protests.

The homicide numbers may point to a downward trend nationally, but many cities are still struggling with surging murders. Milwaukee had a dramatic 39% increase in homicides. Raleigh was right behind it with a 38% increase. Pittsburgh saw a 25% increase while Atlanta saw a 16% rise in homicides.

Chicago and New York City, which both have become poster children in the media for the post-pandemic spike in crime, saw killings drop by about 8% in the first half of the year. The study’s authors cautioned that figures for individual cities could change as police departments update their data over time.

Gun violence has been the driving force behind the rise in homicides that have happened since the start of COVID-19. Most experts agree that it will take a combination of actions from law enforcement, policymakers, and community-based organizations for these numbers to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“As we’ve said before, these elevated levels of violence require an urgent response from elected leaders. We must put evidence-backed strategies in place now to make communities safer,” Rosenfeld said in the press release.

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Write to Josiah Bates at josiah.bates@time.com