Twelve U.S. cities this year have surpassed their all-time homicide record.
Philadelphia, which recorded the highest number of the 12, had more than 500 homicides in 2021, the most it's had since its previous record homicide year in 1990. Of the dozen cities, five broke records set in 2020. At least three, including Philadelphia, Louisville, Ky., and Portland, Ore., were the site of mass protests and riots following the murder of George Floyd and the police shooting of Breonna Taylor. All have Democratic mayors.
Former law enforcement officials have suggested the homicides are due to the dwindling number of police officers, declines in arrests, and the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Retirements by law enforcement officers rose 45 percent from 2020 to 2021. And the FBI reported in September that the United States saw its largest yearly increase in homicides ever—a 30 percent jump since 2020. FBI crime data also show arrests are down nationwide. In 2020, there were only 7.63 million arrests, the fewest in 25 years.
"Nobody's getting arrested anymore," Robert Boyce, a retired chief of detectives for the NYPD, told ABC News. "People are getting picked up for gun possession and they're just let out over and over again."
The problem of declining arrests comes on the heels of efforts made by progressive district attorneys who favor diversionary programs and community-building to locking up criminal defendants. The attorneys criticize the use of cash bail in the justice system, which they say criminalizes poverty.
One such attorney, Milwaukee County district attorney John Chisholm, admitted in November he had set an "inappropriately low" bail amount for Darrell Edward Brooks Jr., the man who plowed his SUV through a parade in Waukesha, Wis., killing six and injuring scores. More than a decade earlier, Chisholm said progressive attorneys should expect such an outcome and that it does not undermine their justice reform efforts.
"Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into [a] treatment program, who's going to go out and kill somebody?" Chisholm said in 2007. "You bet. Guaranteed. It's guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach."
Michael Nutter, Philadelphia's former Democratic mayor, has blamed the city's crime wave on its progressive district attorney Larry Krasner. In a Tuesday editorial he wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Nutter called on Krasner to resign if he "does not have the fortitude or the guts" to do his job and prosecute criminals.
"Krasner should … send a message to the shooters, murderers, and criminals of this city by committing to actually prosecute them, rather than coddle them, make excuses, reduce or drop charges," Nutter said. "He should commit to locking them up for carrying illegal weapons or shooting people."
Chisholm and Krasner both rose to office on contributions from left-wing billionaire George Soros, who gave millions of dollars to their campaigns.
The 12 cities that saw record-high homicides are Philadelphia; Rochester, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Louisville, Ky.; St. Paul, Minn.; Portland, Ore.; Tucson, Ariz.; Toledo, Ohio; Baton Rouge, La.; Austin, Texas; and Albuquerque, N.M.