In Greensboro, N.C., the violence has gotten so extreme that a shootout erupted in front of the county courthouse the other day, across the street from the sheriff’s office, leaving a 20-year-old man dead. Greensboro set a city record with 45 homicides last year, and, as of Friday, already had 54 this year.
“We’ve always had a level of gang activity,” Greensboro Police Chief Brian James said in an interview, “but it’s more prolific now. I’m not sure what’s changed, but the offenders are more bold than they’ve ever been.”
Homicides across America rose more than 28% in the first nine months of this year, and aggravated assaults increased nine percent, while rapes and robberies saw significant drops compared to the same period last year, according to statistics compiled this month from 223 police agencies by the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum.
Some police commanders say the twin impacts of the coronavirus and civil uprisings against police violence caused them to redirect their officers away from proactive anti-crime programs, whether due to virus-related budget cuts or strategic redeployment of forces to handle the unrest. Other officials point to job loss and other stresses of the pandemic as fueling tension and leading to violence. And with many schools shuttered, police say, many areas have seen a rise in violence involving juveniles.
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