What To Know Today

Homicides increased by 5 percent nationally last year. That’s worrying, but it’s far below the 29 percent jump in 2020. That’s according to a year-end look at 27 cities from the Council on Criminal Justice. While the assessment uses a sample of cities, a similar analysis from the group this time last year ended up almost perfectly matching the FBI’s own year-end 2020 figures that were released months later. Despite the two-year increase in homicides, the rates in the cities studied were still about half of the levels in 1993, when America’s violence rates were among the highest on record. “The elevated rates of homicide and serious assaults require an urgent response from elected leaders,” study co-author Richard Rosenfeld said about the latest data. “A year ago, we concluded our 2020 crime report by noting that with so many lives at stake, the time to act is now. That message is as vital today as it was then.”

San Jose passes law requiring gun owners to pay an annual fee, obtain liability insurance. The City Council approved the first-of-its-kind measure that would require gun-owning households to pay an annual fee of approximately $25 and get gun liability insurance that covers damages or losses resulting from “any negligent or accidental use of the firearm.” The annual fee would go toward a new nonprofit organization being created through the ordinance, which would support an array of gun violence prevention and victims’ support services. The ordinance would exempt some gun owners, including current or retired law enforcement officers, people licensed to carry concealed weapons, and low-income residents who already don’t have to pay court fees. One national gun rights group has already taken legal action and others are likely to follow suit in challenging the constitutionality of San Jose’s law, which is set to go into effect in August.

Second NYPD officer shot in Harlem dies from his injuries. Wilbert Mora, 27, died on Tuesday in the hospital, where he had been in critical condition since being shot after responding to a domestic disturbance call on Friday. Police say Lashawn McNeil fired on Mora and 22-year-old officer Jason Rivera, who died at the scene, before a third officer, Sumit Sulan, shot and critically injured the suspect. McNeil also died from his injuries on Monday. The Manhattan DA’s office is investigating the case, including McNeil’s possible involvement with the Sovereign Citizens Movement, a loosely organized collection of extremist groups which reject federal and state legal authority and have been known to engage in deadly conflicts with police. 

“She sought to achieve the American Dream but was instead given American Violence.” That was what the family of Melissa Ortega, an 8-year-old in Chicago, said in a statement after the girl was fatally shot last weekend. Police say Melissa was caught in the crossfire of a gang-related dispute. The girl and her mother had just immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico six month ago. Community residents in Ortega’s Little Village neighborhood pleaded for more mental health services for a community already traumatized by gun violence. 

Utah police shot at people a record number of times last year. They were also shot at at close to record rates. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that officers fired their weapons in 31 shootings in 2021, a record high, while also noting that police were fired on in about half of those cases. The increases followed an uptick in both gun crimes and gun thefts last year. The ongoing paucity of police shooting data: “It’s 2022 and journalists and private citizens continue to produce the best/most timely data on police shootings in most states,” criminology professor Justin Nix tweeted while highlighting the Tribune’s Shots Fired series.

Data Point

$100 million — the total proposed spending House Democrats in Minnesota unveiled this week for an array of public safety priorities, including $22 million in grants for crime investigations, another $22 million in grants for community policing programs, and $40 million in investments for non-police grants to community-led violence prevention groups. [Minnesota Reformer]