Tucson homicide rate rises – AZPM
The homicide rate in Tucson has increased 63% compared to the last two years to date. So far in 2021, statistics from the Tucson Police Department show 49 people have been murdered. At that point in 2020 and 2019 there were 30 police officers say 70% of homicides were due to gun violence.
“It’s hard to put our hands around it because it just doesn’t amount to the anger in the street, the anger in the parking lot,” said Kevin Hall, assistant police chief of Tucson. “We’ve had incidents where people are fighting over a parking space – a Circle K and there’s shooting and people die.”
TPD has also seen an increase in homicide-related robberies, according to Hall.
“You know they have this phone app, Offer Up. People will buy, sell, trade at Offer Up, they will meet in some pretty risky places at different times of the night and they will be robbed. And if they fight back, they’ll be shot, ”said Hall.
The rise in armed violence can be seen across the country.
Hall said an increase in US gun purchases could be part of the problem and Arizona’s gun laws are not helping.
“You can buy and sell guns here without any background checks. When I moved here you could buy and sell guns in flea markets, and you still see that occasionally. That’s not the norm across the country, especially on the east coast, ”Hall said.
Hall made it clear that he believes the vast majority of gun owners are responsible for this.
The lack of background checks on guns sold privately is seen as part of the problem.
“Because they are so easy to buy and transfer in Arizona, they are not always easy to trace. ATF is an excellent partner and they did a really good job of helping us trace the original buyer who either bought through a gun shop or some other legitimate company, but then the gun is traded or bought and sold and it There’s no way to track it down in Arizona, ”Hall explained.
It was this type of legal gun sales that allowed a gun to be lost in the system, investigators believe, that allowed Leslie Scarlett to get a gun. Scarlett is the man who was shot and killed by a Tucson police officer after participating in a rampage on July 18 that left three more killed and two wounded. Scarlett was not allowed to own a gun because he was a convicted felon.
ATF investigators said they were able to trace the gun back to its original owner, who eventually sold it to someone else. After that, they have no idea where the gun went or how many times it was sold until Scarlett used it.
“And one of the problems is that we don’t know where guns are in our community, and I wish I had more answers for you, but here we are,” said Dan South, Pima Chief Criminal Deputy. District Attorney’s Office.
Monthly data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Arizona shows an increase of about 5% in 2021 for checking the database used by state-licensed arms dealers before making a sale. So far this year, more than 360,000 requests have been made to the database from Arizona. The FBI warns that inquiries do not equate to successful sales, as individuals can be turned down. According to another FBI database, 1.9 million people across the country have been turned away since late 1998.
Despite the increase in gun violence, Tucson officials said the city is still a safe place to live and work. Statistics from the Tucson Police Department show that when the number of annual homicides is combined with the number of traffic deaths in the city, that number still does not match the number of overdose deaths.
“Most of these are incidents involving people involved in risky behavior. Certainly not all. And none of them, none of these victims deserve to be placed in positions where they lost their lives, ”said Assistant Chief Hall.
The police in Tucson are not the only ones to experience the rise in gun violence.
“When homicide after homicide and one gun charge after another, we will be prosecuted. And our violent crime units, our murder prosecutors, are ready to tackle the toughest cases of the day. But what we urgently need from the community is prevention work. We can’t solve the problem in the backend, ”said Laura Conover, Pima County prosecutor. (Pima County Attorney and reporter Christopher Conover are unrelated)
Police officers hear this request from Conover and change the mindset of the department.
“We see violence as a public health problem, a disease, that violence – gun violence in particular – is a social contagion that spreads among the people involved in it, much like a disease,” Hall said.