With states lifting their Covid-19 restrictions and more people out in warmer weather, police are preparing for an unusually violent summer crime spike this year.
Police departments are preparing for a summer potentially plagued with gun violence by boosting patrols in high-crime neighborhoods, sending rookie officers out on the streets and increasing overtime spending.
According to a CNN report, crime has been on the rise since 2020. The media giant found that major U.S. cities are experiencing historic murder rates. Since 2020, homicides have jumped by 33% in the wake of a pandemic and tensions from protests and riots.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, more than 8,600 people have died from gun violence in the U.S. this year, with over 260 mass shootings.
William Bratton, former chief officer in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, is concerned about the escalation in violent crime.
“The speed of the increase, the acceleration, as we’re coming out of the coronavirus this year, is of concern,” he said. “And the breadth of it, the fact that just about every major American city, let alone the suburbs, are experiencing significant crime increases, particularly shootings and murders.”
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III also acknowledged the threat of a post-pandemic summer crime wave.
“I share in those concerns with many of my colleagues, as major city chiefs across the country are, even before the restrictions were lifted, we (saw) increases in crime,” he said.
“I think we have to continue to work very closely with our communities. We have to continue to build on those relationships but most importantly when people commit crimes in our city we have to be prepared as a city to bring those individuals to justice.”
Law enforcement officials point to a number of factors behind the increase in crime, from “frayed nerves” caused by pandemic isolation, to increased gun sales, economic collapse, and de-policing following racial justice protests and reforms.
“The worst thing we could do is try to attribute one factor to what’s occurring nationwide,” Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said. “It’s very complex and all this complexity kind of got compounded by Covid.”
Meanwhile, New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said his department has investigated as many as nine homicides, 23 nonfatal shootings and 15 armed robberies in the last month alone.
“Our criminals are becoming more brazen, more bolder in their actions,” Ferguson told reporters Tuesday. “They have escalated their activities and behavior to be more violent.”
The city of Oakland is also grappling with the crime surge by taking illegal firearms off the streets. The city experienced102 homicides last year – the highest total in eight years.
“This is a call to action,” said Oakland Police Chief LaRonne Armstrong. “We need to think about enforcement, but also prevention. Not one or the other can work independently.” Oakland’s Police Department’s data-driven Ceasefire strategy has led to the recovery of hundreds of illegally-owned handguns.