SLED report shows ‘alarming’ statewide increase in violent crime and murder in 2020

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – New data released this week by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Criminal Report 2020 shows what the division calls an “alarming” increase in violent crime in the state.

SLED statistics show that statewide murders rose 22% in 2020, with the state’s murder rate now the highest since 1993.

According to SLED chief Mark Keel, gang, drug and criminal access to guns is playing a critical role in this increase in killings.

In Colombia, Police Chief Skip Holbrook said about four percent of the population commits 80 percent of violent crimes in the city.

“We need to keep our foot on the gas pedal when it comes to reducing violent crime,” he said.

Holbrook made the remarks today at a press conference describing the city’s efforts to reduce violent crime through its Real-Time Crime and Emergency Operations Center.

He said the Real-Time Crime Center is “an extension of our frontline agents,” allowing the department to take advantage of technology and respond to incidents in real time throughout daily operations.

SLED’s report details a statewide murder rate that has risen 48% since 2017. There were 373 murders in the state in 2017, and that number has steadily increased every year. year since. There were 552 murders statewide in 2020.

In Richland County, murders have increased from 53 in 2019 to 42 in 2020, but the murder rate has increased 27% since 2017.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin thinks one of his takeaways from the report is that there are too many guns on the streets.

“When you have a country where you have more guns on our streets than you actually have people, we have a problem,” he said. “And we need more help. We need more help from the state legislature, we need more help from the national government, the federal government, and we need more help from each of our citizens to do our part .

Holbrook admitted that Columbia had a “gun problem”, adding that the CPD had “never tiptoed this subject.”

He said he was encouraged that gun murders were down in the city compared to last year, but worried about a significant increase in non-fatal shootings. According to CPD data, there were currently 11 gun murders in 2021 and 69 non-fatal shootings.

“We know we have a violent crime problem and we’ve had a violent crime problem for over a decade,” Holbrook said. ” We are progressing. I think the way we leverage technology is what allows us to see gains, but really holds the line at a time when we are witnessing unprecedented violence statewide and nationwide. . “

The CPD works to reduce violent crime through the Real-Time Crime Center, which uses ShotSpotter and a series of cameras strategically placed in nearly 200 locations around the city.

RELATED STORY | CPD reports increase in violent crime so far in 2021, including non-fatal shootings

“This emergency operations center is for crises,” said Holbrook. “Natural disaster, serious incidents and it’s ready to go anytime. But we know that we are not in this emergency crisis mode every day, but we are in an operational mode of police intervention every day and that is what this center represents. “

ShotSpotter is a series of sensors that covers an area of ​​seven square miles and alerts officers when gunshots are detected.

RELATED | Columbia police unveil new technology alerting officers to gunfire

Holbrook said the department is also investing in 200 additional cameras, which will provide advanced capability and connectivity.

Keel added that the findings of the SLED report “should apply to all citizens of the state.”

“We must all work together to tackle violent crime in this state, which means working with our elected officials, with our partners in the criminal justice system and with the community,” he added. “We need to have community support, community interaction, community cooperation and community investment to really have an impact on crime.”

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