Research shows murder, aggravated assault rates up in Memphis

Research shows murder, aggravated assault rates up in Memphis
Generic shot of crime scene tape. (Source: Miles Jackson, WAVE 3 News)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Researchers with the University of Memphis Public Safety Institue and the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission released preliminary crime figures from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for January 2020 - September 2020 and compared it to previous years.

Figures show significant changes during the coronavirus pandemic between April and September compared to figures between January and March.

In the first quarter, major violent crime (reported murders, robberies, rapes, and aggravated assaults) dropped 4.3% in Memphis and 5.2% countywide compared to the first quarter in 2019. That decline was caused by a big decline in aggravated assaults and robberies.

Major violent crimes reported in Memphis 2020
Major violent crimes reported in Memphis 2020 (Source: Crime Commission and University of Memphis)

During the coronavirus pandemic, major violent crime rates rose 17.6% in Memphis and 17.1% countywide compared to 2019.

According to the release, significant increases in murders (up an alarming 62.7% in Memphis and 55.1% countywide) and aggravated assaults (up 27.2% in Memphis and 26.6% throughout the county) cause the major violent crime rate to rise. This reversed the decline during the first quarter.

Officials added that murders and aggravated assaults often involve suspects and victims who know each other.

However, during the coronavirus months the rate of reported robberies, where victims are normally chosen at random, continued a three-year decline. Reported robberies were down 14.7% in Memphis and 15.5.% countywide.

Major property crime reported in Memphis/Shelby County 2020
Major property crime reported in Memphis/Shelby County 2020 (Source: Crime Commission and University of Memphis)

Since 2016, the reported robbery rate plummeted 34.1% in Memphis and 59.8% since 2006.

Overall, major property crime was down 12.2% in Memphis and 11.7% countywide. The pandemic caused more people to be home during the day which could have caused a deterrent to possible burglarers.

Overall crime rates in Memphis/Shelby County
Overall crime rates in Memphis/Shelby County (Source: Crime Commission and University of Memphis)
“The increases in murders and aggravated assaults are occurring in cities across the country during the pandemic. We are not alone. Many of these crimes involve perpetrators and victims who know each other, which probably reflects the increased stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, we can be encouraged by continuing and consistent declines in robberies and burglaries. While still a problem, the chances of being a random victim of a robbery or burglary are down considerably.”
Bill Gibbons, president of the Crime Commission and executive director of the UofM Public Safety Institute
Reported domestic violence offenses in Memphis/Shelby County
Reported domestic violence offenses in Memphis/Shelby County (Source: Crime Commission and University of Memphis)

Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.