Following up on Wednesday’s Daily Critical Issues Report about violent crime data and Thursday’s report about violent crime increases among Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA) agencies, today’s report features interviews with police executives from large agencies that are not MCCA members, but are experiencing similar increases in some categories of violent crimes.

Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article about the crime research by PERF and MCCA.

Key Takeaways

-- The hundreds of protests in 2020 often resulted in detectives and officers being pulled from their regular assignments in specialized units and patrol, to bolster the response to demonstrations. This can have the effect of taking personnel away from neighborhoods that traditionally have had a greater police presence to prevent crime.

-- Releases of some convicted offenders and suspects awaiting trial, and sharp cutbacks in court operations have resulted in arrestees and offenders being returned to the community, where some have resumed criminal activity.

-- There is a sense that offenders feel they can act with impunity because of the combination of negative factors listed above. Shootings are unusually brutal, with many rounds fired and little or no regard for bystanders.


Anaheim, CA Chief Jorge Cisneros

As of September 30, the Anaheim Police Department recorded a 133% increase in homicides (from 6 to 14), an 18% increase in aggravated assaults, a 6% increase in rapes, and a 5% increase in robberies year to date compared to 2019. 

The city of Anaheim has about 360,000 residents. We get about 25 million visitors annually because we have Disneyland, the Angels, the Ducks, and the largest convention center on the West Coast.

For years, we have been a pretty safe community, so our homicide numbers are low. I’ve noticed that as the numbers have increased from 2019 to 2020, both the victims and offenders tend to be Hispanic males, which hasn’t really changed.

When the pandemic hit, the resort went silent. It’s a ghost town. That was really impactful. We thought our crime would reduce significantly without the 25 million visitors, but that wasn’t the case. Our violent crime has increased in all categories. Property crime went down except for motor vehicle theft, where we saw a 39% spike.

Our proactive work slowed down when the pandemic hit. That was intentional, because we wanted our officers to be cautious about the arrests they made. Once the gang shootings increased in the summer, we went back to our traditional style of policing, with prevention, intervention, and enforcement. We noticed the shootings started to decline, but we’ve seen a 33% increase in shootings this year compared to last year.

We also had to deal with the jails and the courts. The jails released certain individuals who should be in custody. And the courts went to zero bail for numerous crimes. We had one individual who committed a murder while on bail for a gun charge.

I think there are a lot of reasons for the increase. People are at home. Police departments slowed down at the beginning of the pandemic because we wanted to be cautious.

After a period of time, once we had a bit more knowledge and understanding of COVID, we started to go back to our traditional policing style, which we think has done a decent job addressing crime.

California’s reforms, including Prop 47, Prop 57, and AB109, were done with good intentions, and I think most of us would say that if we can prevent crime and intervene, that’s definitely what we should do. But when you only have a carrot and don’t have a stick, that tends to cause issues. There’s really no reason for some of these individuals to move forward and change their lifestyles if we don’t have a stick.



Madison, WI Chief Victor Wahl

As of September 30, the Madison Police Department recorded an increase in homicides from 2 to 10, a 1% decrease in aggravated assaults, a 37% decrease in rapes, and a 6% decrease in robberies year to date compared to 2019. 

Madison police also reported a 76% increase in shooting incidents and a 170% increase in shell casings recovered over that time period.

The numbers and metrics on gun violence that we’re measuring are really off the charts for us. It’s hard to put your finger on what the cause is, but a few things jump out to me as possibilities.

We have had civil unrest and protests here. I think we went 168 straight days with some type of protest activity, some small, some very big. We had to allocate staff to those events every day. Those are people pulled away from doing their normal jobs and keeping their normal presence in neighborhoods, including initiatives and outreach that ideally would have an impact on violence.

The second thing is that the court system is pretty much on pause because of COVID. People are getting arrested and there is a significant effort to get them out of custody, which is reasonable because of COVID, and they’re out on bail. There are no trials happening. There’s no incentive for people to settle cases. I think this is contributing to a sense that there are no consequences or accountability. When you pair that up with the civil unrest and the impact that has had on how people perceive police, it’s not a good combination.

The volume of shots being fired and the rounds that people are firing into uninvolved residences and vehicles are really off the charts. I suspect the unrest and accumulating sense that there’s less likelihood of being held accountable play a role in that. We’re also just not able to do some of the things we normally do, not only because of the protests but also because COVID is limiting our ability to be out there in neighborhoods building relationships.

The nature of our homicides has been pretty consistent, typically involving younger African-American men as both suspects and victims, with some sort of dispute that escalates into a shooting. It’s tough to address, because there’s very little geographic pattern to it. It’s all over the place, and much more often than we’ve previously seen, between moving vehicles on busy streets during the middle of the day.

It seems we’re seeing more and more incidents involving multiple shooters, multiple firearms, and multiple calibers, which obviously increases the risk to the public.


Greensboro, NC Deputy Chief Michael Terry

As of September 30, the Greensboro Police Department recorded a 27% increase in homicides (from 33 to 42), an 15% increase in aggravated assaults, a 16% decrease in rapes, and a 9% decrease in robberies year to date compared to 2019. 

It’s hard to pinpoint one particular thing, but we think a part of it is the releases. Court has been on hold for a while, operating in just a very limited format. Bond reform was implemented here last winter, and it’s a little bit more difficult to keep people in custody.

I think another part of it that some of the people in this city feel emboldened because of some of the adjustments that we made for COVID and the reduction in activity during the protests this summer. And once you actually make arrests, they’re not staying in custody. I think it actually emboldens them.

Our 54th homicide occurred a couple days ago just a block away from our office, right in front of the courthouse, at 11:30 in the morning. A couple of the suspects had on ankle monitors, but they had no fear and were willing to go out and do that.

In our jurisdiction I attribute some of that activity to the feeling that they can do it without any intervention. Of course we’re out there trying to do what we can, but I attribute a lot of it to that.

Our homicides are probably spread out the same way they normally are. About 20% of them we classify as domestic, and about 10% we classify as gang-related. A lot we classify as disputes. A few are drug-related. And some we don’t really know, because we don’t have any suspects in custody. It’s really a cross-section of reasons and rationales.

We believe a lot of our gun violence incidents, including shootings into occupied dwellings, shooting into vehicles, and shooting at people, which don’t necessarily turn into homicides, are gang-related. We collect a lot of our gun cases and put them into the NIBIN database, and we see those casings tied to other scenes and jurisdictions.

Our average victim age is 31, and our average suspect age is about 27.


Kansas City, KS Major Shane Turner

As of September 30, the Kansas City, KS Police Department recorded a 74% increase in homicides (from 23 to 40), an 75% increase in aggravated assaults, a 32% decrease in rapes, and a 15% decrease in robberies year to date compared to 2019. 

We have a 20% uptick in domestic-related homicides. And another significant portion of our incidents are related to mental illness. We’re seeing a lot more of that lately. That’s pretty much our uptick.

My opinion is that a lot of it has to do with the lockdown. We were only booking people in for violent felonies, and a lot of proactivity went down as a result of COVID and related precautions.

There are a lot more domestic-related calls. We’re also having a significant uptick in shots fired into occupied and unoccupied dwellings, shots fired into vehicles, and road rage incidents.

Our homicide rates are higher in the downtown areas, which are more densely populated, but it’s happening at gas stations and exit ramps to major highways.

When we see an uptick in domestic-related homicides, there has to be some kind of environmental or mental stress factors that go with that escalation.

We’ve never had a lot of services available for people in crisis. Rainbow Services is our primary facility for people in crisis. They had two locations but recently had to shut one down due to budget cuts, so now we only have one location with 24-hour services available. We don’t have many shelters within the jurisdictional boundaries of our city.

Rifles have been the primary weapon for a lot of our incidents, but we’re seeing an uptick in automatic handguns.


The PERF Critical Issues Report is part of the Critical Issues in Policing project, supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.


PERF also is grateful to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for supporting this work.