How US cities are preparing for a potentially bloody summer of gun violence
Jun 09, 2021 2 mins, 30 secs
With states lifting Covid-19 restrictions and more people out in warmer weather, US cities are preparing for a potentially bloody summer by bulking up patrols in high-crime neighborhoods, putting rookie officers on the streets and increasing overtime spending.

Several law enforcement officials and policing experts interviewed by CNN acknowledged alarming shooting and homicide numbers so far this year following jumps in violent crime not seen in more than a decade.

In fact, major US cities are experiencing historic murder rates after 2020 saw a 33% increase in homicides as the pandemic swept the country and millions joined protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

"And the breadth of it, the fact that just about every major American city, let alone the suburbs, are experiencing significant crime increases, particularly shootings and murders."

In Oakland, where five people were wounded in a shooting over the weekend, Police Chief LaRonne Armstrong said the city has had 57 homicides this year.

We have to continue to build on those relationships but most 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 kicked off the district's annual summer crime initiative, saying the department is "laser focused" on six areas of the city "that have historically experienced a high density of violent crime."

In Atlanta, Police Chief Rodney Bryant on Wednesday outlined the department's plan to combat the summer crime surge.

"That's problematic when you are arresting someone -- be it a juvenile or an adult -- and they are back out at the same location the next day."

So many factors at play

Adam Gelb, president of Council on Criminal Justice, said being a police chief right now has to be the "toughest job in America."

"The social, and economic and political waves generated by the pandemic and the protests are all coming together and crashing down right on your desk," he said

"And to unpack that further: How much of the rising gun violence is the police withdrawing from communities?

"The worst thing we could do is try to attribute one factor to what's occurring nationwide," Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said.

"It's very complex and all this complexity kind of got compounded by Covid."

Experts also point to a surge in US gun sales that started last year and continued in 2021.

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

"Without a doubt a trend is the increase in violent crime and it's going to take us some time to work through this," said Medina, who department saw a 75% jump in homicides in the first quarter of this year.

"Gun violence is a public health epidemic that only intensified throughout the pandemic -- 2020 saw a 13% increase in homicides from the year prior and a 45% increase from 2016," said the summary of an anti-gun violence initiative approved by the county commission this week.

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