Friday, December 3

This is how the US is preparing for a summer marked by armed violence

(CNN)– A relentless rise in gun violence and homicides is sweeping through American cities even before the usual summer crime spike, causing police leaders from New York to New Orleans, strive to find solutions.
With the lifting of restrictions against covid-19 and the increase in the number of people taking to the streets in the warmer weather, American cities are preparing for a potentially bloody summer by increasing patrols in the neighborhoods with the highest rates. crime, putting rookie agents on the streets and increasing overtime spending.

Several law enforcement officials and police experts interviewed by CNN acknowledged that the numbers of shootings and homicides are alarming so far this year, following an increase in violent crime that had not occurred in more than a decade.

In fact, major U.S. cities are experiencing historic homicide rates after 2020 saw a rise in homicide rates. 33% in homicides when the pandemic swept the country and millions of people joined the protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

“The whole nature of proactive policing is being called into question as murders and shootings are on the rise,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a police policy group.

“It’s a challenge being a cop right now, but it’s also challenging from the police chief’s point of view. They’re not getting much sleep.”

“This is a call to action”

During the weekend, at least 16 people were fatally shot and more than 40 were injured across the United States. Among them, five people were killed in Chicago and eight others were killed in mass shootings in Oregon, Indiana, Utah and Michigan.

More than 8,600 people have died from gun violence in the United States this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, with more than 260 mass shootings as of this Wednesday.

“The speed of the increase, the acceleration, as we come out of the coronavirus this year, is concerning,” said William Bratton, a former chief of police in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, of the rise in violent crime. “And the breadth of it, the fact that almost every major American city, not to mention the suburbs, is experiencing a significant increase in crime, particularly shootings and homicides.”

In Oakland, where five people were injured in a shooting over the weekend, Police Chief LaRonne Armstrong said the city has had 57 homicides this year. Oakland had 102 homicides in all of last year, the highest total in eight years.

“This is a call to action,” Armstrong said, noting that the city’s data-driven ceasefire strategy has led to the recovery of hundreds of firearms since April. “We have to think about the application of the law, but also about prevention. Neither can work separately.”

In New York City, where shootings increased 73% in the past month compared to May 2020, authorities this week announced a partnership between the NYPD and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The effort aims to reduce gun violence and stop the flow of illegal weapons in New York City.

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the rapid delivery of federal gun information under the new partnership will help the city resolve cases.

“We can obtain information about the weapons that are recovered, link them to other crimes, get them into the hands of investigators more quickly and use that information to solve and close those crimes,” he said.

In the country’s capital, Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III acknowledged last week that a wave of post-covid crime is expected this summer.

“I share that concern with many of my colleagues, as well as the bosses of major cities across the country, 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 those relationships, but more importantly, when people commit crimes in our city we have to be prepared as a city to bring those individuals to justice.”

In May, Contee launched the district’s annual initiative to combat crime in the summer, saying the department is “focused like a laser” on six areas of the city “that have historically experienced a high density of violent crime.”

In Atlanta, Police Chief Rodney Bryant laid out the department’s plan on Wednesday to combat the rise in crime in the summer. The city recorded 57 murders as of the end of May, compared to 35 in the same period last year.

Key components of the plan include increased patrols at clubs and businesses that attract young people and have been sources of what Bryant called “nightlife” problems. The department will also aggressively pursue repeat offenders.

“It’s very frustrating,” Bryant said. “It is problematic when someone – be it a minor or an adult – is detained and goes out to the same place the next day.”

Many factors at play

Adam Gelb, chairman of the Criminal Justice Council, said being a police chief right now has to be “America’s hardest job.”

“The social, economic and political waves generated by the pandemic and the protests come together and crash right at your table.”

“And to delve deeper into the issue: To what extent is the increase in gun violence due to the police withdrawing from communities? To what extent are communities distancing themselves from the police? How much does it have to do with it? with the increase in arms sales? How much does it have to do with the fact that the nerves have been exacerbated? How much is there of economic and social isolation and, in some cases, of despair? “, he said.

In the first three months of this year, the homicide rate in more than 30 U.S. cities increased 24% compared to the same time period in 2020, according to the National Commission on covid-19 and Criminal Justice. Assaults with firearms increased 22%.

Although the current spike in homicides remains below peaks seen in the mid-1990s, the commission said in a report, homicide rates have been on the rise since late 2019, months before the peak of the pandemic.

Several factors may have contributed to the rise in gun violence, experts say. Among them, the economic collapse, the reduction of surveillance in major cities following the protests over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the shifts in law enforcement resources to downtown areas due to protests and releasing those accused of crimes before trial or before sentences are served to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in prisons.

“The worst thing we could do is try to attribute a factor to what is happening across the country,” said Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina. “It is very complex and all this complexity has been exacerbated by covid-19.”

Experts also point to a surge in US arms sales that began last year and continued into 2021.

In March, the FBI reported almost 4.7 million background checks, the most of any month since the agency began keeping records more than 20 years ago, and a whopping 77% increase from March 2019.

“Definitely a trend is the increase in violent crime and it is going to take us some time to work on this,” said Medina, whose department saw a 75% increase in homicides in the first quarter of this year.

Criminals are “more brazen”

In Miami-Dade County, Florida, there were 41 homicides as of May 23, the same number as at this point in 2020.

Last week, county police released surveillance video showing three masked suspects who they opened fire on a crowd outside a concert hall on March 30, leaving three people dead and at least 20 others injured.

“We are not going to allow a small group of bad actors to define this community, terrorize our community and we must and will end these senseless killings,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Tuesday. .

The mayor said police had arrested about 170 people and removed more than 60 guns from the street since the county launched “Operation Summer Heat” last weekend to curb gun violence.

Miami-Dade launches operation after wave of shootings 3:07

“Gun violence is a public health epidemic that intensified throughout the pandemic: 2020 saw a 13% increase in homicides over the previous year and a 45% increase over 2016,” he said the summary of an initiative against gun violence approved by the county commission this week. “Nearly one in four victims in 2020 was under the age of 21.”

New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said his department has investigated up to nine homicides, 23 non-fatal shootings and 15 armed robberies in the past two weeks.

“Our criminals are becoming more brazen, bolder in their actions,” Ferguson told reporters on Tuesday. “They have intensified their activities and their behavior to be more violent.”

Nine people were injured in a shooting at a pool party over the weekend, Ferguson said, adding that pandemic-related disruptions to the court system had emboldened criminals.

“Literally, everyone seems to think that the chief of police is the one who has the responsibility to fix this and to do it almost alone,” Gelb said.

“Public safety is not the exclusive competence of the police. It is a partnership with communities and with government agencies and correctional agencies, mental health and substance abuse agencies, social services and employment agencies, all have a critical role in real time. They have to step up and be accountable as well. “

Ryan Young, Jason Morris, Hayley Simonson, Abbey Clark, Jade Gordon, Kristina Sgueglia, Artemis Moshtaghian, Omar Jimenez, Deanna Hackney, Hollie Silverman, Evan Simko-Bednarski, Jamiel Lynch, Kelsie Smith, Leyla Santiago y Sara Weisfeldt de CNN contribuyeron a este reporte.

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