Police Departments In Multiple Major Cities Won’t Say If Gang Violence Is Increasing

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Kaylee Greenlee Immigration and Extremism Reporter
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  • Police departments in several major cities wouldn’t say whether gang violence has increased in the region this year. 
  • Some departments said the motive behind crimes isn’t always known while others said they couldn’t provide data unless a formal records request was submitted.
  • “We have seen an increase in gun violence over the past year, however, the motive for the violence is not always known,” a Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. 

Police departments in several major cities would not say if gang violence in the region has increased in the last year, despite an overall increase in reports of violent crime.

Some police departments said the motive behind crimes isn’t always known while multiple others said they would not be able to provide any information unless a formal records request was submitted.

Over 1,600 violent crimes were recorded in 2021 and reported homicides were up 13% from last year in Washington, D.C., according to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). The MPD does not publicly report instances of gang-related activity or offenses.

“We have seen an increase in gun violence in our city. It is not known, in all cases, what the motive is behind the violence,” a D.C. MPD spokesperson told the DCNF Tuesday. “Nonetheless, MPD is working tirelessly and building upon relationships with the communities we serve to make them safer.”

Police block off a crime scene in southeast Washington D.C. where a Metropolitan Police Department officer fatally shot a young black man. (Kaylee Greenlee/Daily Caller News Foundation)

Police block off a crime scene in southeast Washington D.C. where a Metropolitan Police Department officer fatally shot a young black man. (Kaylee Greenlee/Daily Caller News Foundation)

Law enforcement officials are preparing for a potential increase in violent crime over the summer as COVID-19 restrictions ease and people emerge from their homes, according to The New York Times. Homicides in major cities increased by more than 30% last year and were up another 24% at the beginning of 2021, the Times reported.

Overall, crime fell over 20% during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic and violent crime including shootings and homicides rose during the summer of 2020, EconoFact reported on March 30. It was unclear whether the pandemic had a direct impact on the increase in violent crimes that coincided with lifted restrictions and a summer of civil unrest.

“We are seeing an uptick in violent crime across the country, specifically gun violence,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said, the Times reported. “People have been cooped up, they have been psychologically affected by this pandemic.”

Homicides in Los Angeles, California, rose 36%, from 258 to 351 in 2020, according to the Times. The LAPD would not say how many instances of gang-related offenses occurred without a formal records request submission and the most recent data available on their website is from April 2019.

Nearly 16,400 instances of gang-related crimes have occurred in Los Angeles, California, over the last three years, according to the LAPD. Offenses include nearly 500 homicides, more than 7,000 felony assaults and over 5,500 robberies. (RELATED: Dallas Police Say There’s Been An Increase In Gang-Related Crimes)

More than 45,000 people belong to the region’s 450 gang organizations in Los Angeles County, known as the “gang capital of the nation,” according to the LAPD. Several of the groups have existed for over 50 years and focus on selling narcotics.

The Portland Police Bureau doesn’t track gang activity even though incidents of gang violence have increased in the Oregon city, the DCNF reported Thursday.

“In Portland, ‘gang violence’ is not a category of crime,” a department spokesperson told the DCNF Wednesday. “We investigate criminal activity. The terms ‘gang violence’ and ‘gang activity’ are phrases which could be variously defined.”

Around half of the 470 shooting incidents reported in 2021 were gang-related, police reportedly told the Associated Press on June 10. Homicides in Portland, Oregon, increased over 82% from 2020 to 2021, the Times reported.

The Austin, Texas, Police Department also would not release statistics or information regarding gang-related activity without a formal records request, a spokesperson told the DCNF Thursday.

“We have to adhere to the Public Information Act and cannot disclose specific stats and records without the request. The requests are tracked and data is recorded for the type of information being requested,” the Austin Police Department spokesperson said.

One person died and 13 others were injured after a shooting on Sixth Street in Austin, Texas, the Austin American-Statesman reported June 13. Two suspects were arrested in connection with the incident, one unidentified juvenile, and 17-year-old Jeremiah Roshaun Leland James Tabb, though their motive was unclear, according to the Austin Police Department.

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