Detroit Police Chief: Homicides, shootings & assaults increase in 2020, overall crime down

Posted at 4:51 AM, Jan 07, 2021

DETROIT (AP) — Crime dropped overall in Detroit in 2020, even though the number of homicides and non-fatal shootings rose dramatically, according to police statistics released Wednesday.

The city recorded 327 homicides last year compared to 275 in 2019, Police Chief James Craig told reporters. There were 261 homicides in 2018.

Non-fatal shootings rose from 767 in 2019 to 1,173 last year. In 2018, there were 753 non-fatal shootings in Detroit. The number of aggravated assaults jumped from fewer than 10,000 in 2018 and 2019 to 12,003 last year.

Total part-one crime, which includes burglaries, larcenies and vehicle theft, dropped by 13%.

Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and other cities also recorded an increase in homicides and non-fatal shootings in 2020.

Authorities and some experts have said there is no one clear-cut reason for the nationwide spike. They instead point to the social and economic upheaval caused by COVID-19, public sentiment following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody, and a historic shortage of jobs and resources in poorer communities. It’s happening in cities large and small, Democrat and Republican-led.

Craig said he believes the pandemic was the main factor behind the rise in violent crime.

“It had a direct impact on violence and manifested in many different ways,” he said.

But he also blamed the increase in homicides and non-fatal shootings on the numbers of illegal guns in the hands of criminals, an increase in drug and alcohol abuse during the pandemic and an inability by some people to handle disputes.

In Detroit, about 47% of homicides involved drugs, while 31% occurred during arguments and 6% were domestic-related.

Other violent crime dropped in Detroit in 2020 from 2019.

Sexual assaults were down by more than 300 — 952 in 2019 compared to 609 last year. The city reported 1,843 robberies last year, down from more than 2,300 in 2019. Burglaries fell to 4,466 from 6,820.