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Homicide rate rose 29.4% in record 2020 increase, new FBI report shows

Lataisha Jones-Lewis holds a photo of her daughter Joyce Freeman during a New Year's Eve Candlelight Service commemorating those who lost their lives to violence in 2020. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Lataisha Jones-Lewis holds a photo of her daughter Joyce Freeman during a New Year's Eve Candlelight Service commemorating those who lost their lives to violence in 2020. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The homicide rate was up a record 29.4% in 2020 over 2019, FBI figures released Monday show.

The 29.4% increase marks the largest single-year increase the agency has recorded since it began tracking the data in the 1960s, according to CNN.

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The FBI released the figures Monday as part of the annual Uniform Crime Report for 2020.

There were more than 21,500 reported homicides last year, according to the figures.

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The total number of homicides was the highest its been since the mid-1990s, CNN noted.

Still, the homicide rate at 6.5 per 100,000 people was about 40% below the peak in the 1980s and the 1990s, the FBI's data show.

According to the data, the majority of homicide victims and offenders were between the ages of 20 and 29, and homicides began to escalate in the summer of 2020.

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The number of violent crimes also increased year-over-year for the first time in four years, according to the FBI statement.

Violent crime was up 5.6% in 2020 over 2019. Overall crime dropped 6% in the same period.

"In 2020, there were an estimated 1,277,696 violent crimes," the FBI statement said. "When compared with the estimates from 2019, the estimated number of robbery offenses fell 9.3% and the estimated volume of rape (revised definition) offenses decreased 12%. The estimated number of aggravated assault offenses rose 12.1%, and the volume of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased 29.4%."

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The annual report is based on data voluntarily reported to the FBI by law enforcement agencies. In 2020, about 85% of more than 18,000 agencies submitted their data to the FBI.

The National Commission for COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, which surveyed crime across 34 major U.S. cities, similarly found that homicides were up 30% in 2020 compared to 2019. The Commission's first quarter of 2021 report found that homicide rates had declined from their peak in the summer of 2020, but remained above levels in the first quarter of prior years.

Both reports also similarly found that property crimes, such as burglary and larceny, decreased in 2020 over 2019, with an exception for motor vehicle theft, which rose.

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