Several major cities across the U.S. saw their homicide rates spike in the first quarter of 2016. Violent crime and homicide rates also increase during 2015. Cities such as Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Baltimore were hit the hardest based on a report filed by the Washington Post. Law enforcement officials and criminologists have been unable to pinpoint exactly what caused the spike in these cities.
Some believe that an increase in gang violence and drug addiction played a crucial role in the rise of violent crime this year. In Chicago, shootings are at some of the highest levels in a decade, and the city faces a record number of homicides if the current pace continues. Chicago could have more than 500 homicides by the end of 2016.
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. The Washington Post reports that homicides are down in most major metropolitan cities when compared to a quarter of a century ago. Urban areas and the outskirts of major cities are far safer than they were three decades ago and that the U.S. continues to experience historically low levels of violence, according to The Brennan Center.
Many law enforcement officials point the blame squarely at the heroin epidemic that the country currently faces. Those who are addicted to heroin are willing to commit violent crimes and robberies in order to get the drug, and these altercations often lead to people losing their lives.