DETROIT, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The number of homicides in Detroit increased by 10 percent in 2012, pushing the murder rate to 53 per 100,000 residents, officials said.
As of Sunday night, there were at least 379 murders in Detroit in 2012, surpassing the 344 tally for 2011, The Detroit News reported.
"This is a problem that just keeps festering," said retired Detroit Police Detective Dave Bashur. "It's a sad thing to see."
Experts say poverty, the drug trade and a violent culture are the main contributing factors to Detroit's high murder rate.
"The income level of Detroit residents has been dropping precipitously over the years, and that's an indicator," said Detroit criminal justice professor Daniel Kennedy. "I can tell you where the more violent parts of the country are going to be by sitting here at my desk and looking at income data; I don't even have to look at crime data. I can tell you what parts of which city not to go to based just on income."
Bashur, 62, said he believes Detroit's murder problem has to do with the lack of jobs for young people.
"Growing up in Detroit, you could find a job. Now, there's nothing. I used to work at Frank's Nursery and Crafts on McNichols; now it's just an empty lot," he said. "So these kids have to get money somehow; how do they do it? They go into the drug business. But if you go into that business, you have competition. How do you get rid of the competition? Violence."
Police are set to release the official 2012 homicide tally and other figures on violent crimes in Detroit later this week.