(NewsNation Now) — The FBI reported a nearly 30% increase in murders during 2020. That’s the largest single-year increase ever recorded in the country, according to official FBI statistics released Monday.
The data shows that there were 21,570 homicides in the U.S. in 2020, an increase of 4,901 over 2019. Pat Brady, former federal prosecutor and former chairman for the Illinois Republican Party, said the increase is due to low prosecution levels of crimes in cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago.
“We (Chicago) have one of the most lenient prosecutors in the country who believes her office is a social service position,” Brady said on NewsNation’s “The Donlon Report.” “There’s a correlation between the fact that the jails are now empty, and the crime and murder rates and violent crime rates are what they are in Chicago.”
T.J. Smith, retired Maryland police commander, agreed with Brady.
“We’ve seen people across the country, whether it’s the politicians, or the prosecutors, or whomever, really wave the white flag of … we’re not going to prosecute you for this, we’re not going to prosecute you for that,” Smith said. “As opposed to trying to change policy, while at the same time holding people accountable. And now we’re seeing the results of that, which is basic anarchy in some cases.”
Overall, violent crimes in 2020 went up by 5% over the previous year. However, property crimes continued a nearly two-decade decline, falling 7.8%. Robbery and rape also dropped 9.3% and 12%, respectively.
While the drops in other crime categories are positive news, homicides were the stunning trend — one that has continued this year. A number of communities, rural and metropolitan, have experienced continued increases in homicides.
The rising violence has become a political battleground in the year after protests over policing erupted in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Researchers also attributed the rise in violent crimes to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.