Atlanta ranked No. 3 among large U.S. cities for the highest increase in the homicide rate during the pandemic, according to a study released this week by WalletHub.
The personal finance website compared per-capita homicides during the first quarters of the past three years in 50 cities. Atlanta came in behind New Orleans in the top spot and Cincinnati. among cities with increased homicide cases, according to the survey’s findings. The bottom three cities included Boston, Madison and Lincoln.
“Alarmingly, homicide rates have risen by an average of 17% in 50 of the most populated U.S. cities between Q1 2020 and Q1 2022, and are still rising,” the survey findings state.
The findings are no shock in Atlanta, where city leaders have made fighting violent crime a top priority.
Homicides spiked by an average of 17% in 50 of the biggest U.S. cities between Q1 2020 and Q1 2022. Here are the cities...Posted by WalletHub on Wednesday, April 20, 2022
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to discuss his first 100 days in office, Mayor Andre Dickens said the murder total is “too high for me. Too high for our citizens.”
“It’s tearing at me at the core,” Dickens said. “To see people, you know, take a bowling ball dispute and it ends in murder … these things concern me.”
After a historically deadly 2020, Atlanta leaders hoped homicides would decrease last year. The opposite happened. Authorities investigated 158 killings in 2021, one more than 2020 and the most since 1996.
As of Thursday, Atlanta police were investigating 56 homicides in 2022, up from 38 on the same day last year.
Police leaders have repeatedly said turning to guns is not the way to solve disputes. Lt. Ralph Woolfolk, the commander of the APD homicide unit, discussed this again after a woman was shot to death in a bowling alley parking lot.
“We talk about conflict resolution time and time again, and once again, this is an escalated dispute over a bowling ball,” Woolfolk said. During a Thursday news conference announcing an arrest following the fatal shooting of a security guard, he said 40 percent of homicides stem from disputes that escalate into violence. Woolfolk also noted that 80 percent of Atlanta homicides involve firearms.
WalletHub interviewed various law experts on their ideas for solutions to the crime wave. But the solutions aren’t simple.
“The solution to the rise in homicide rates is not to overreact with fear and attempt to justify staying with the old model of police ruling with impunity and an iron fist,” Diane Birnholz, a former federal prosecutor, told the website. “One of the goals of ongoing efforts at police reform and better community relations is to treat those communities hardest hit by violent crime with fairness and transparency.”
ATLANTA HOMICIDE NUMBERS
2022: 56 as of Thursday