‘It is a high number’: Montgomery reaches 75 homicides before end of 2021

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 10:25 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The city of Montgomery will record one of its highest - if not the highest - ever recorded homicide rates in 2021 despite there still being nearly two weeks left in the year.

At the time this report was filed Monday, 75 people had been murdered in Montgomery so far this year. The city surpassed 2020′s homicide total of 68 in early November. The homicide rate for 2019 was 42.

“It is a high number,” admitted Interim Police Chief Ramona Harris. “Seventy-five is one of the highest number’s we’ve seen in Montgomery.”

Harris noted that about 20% of the city’s crimes for the year have been violent offences. The 75 homicides account for less than 1% of the total acts of violent crime while the remaining 19% are made up of incidents such as assaults, shooting into an occupied dwellings, and domestic violence-related cases.

The Montgomery Police Department’s data indicates six homicide victims were under the age of 18.

“You see a lack of conflict resolution,” Harris said. “That’s one of the biggest problems is where people are not responding with communication, they are responding with violence, unfortunately.”

According to MPD statistics, when looking at the 75 homicides, 15 were caused by arguments, 12 were senseless killings with no motive, 9 were domestic violence-related, and 5 were caused by sudden anger. Police have not yet determined the cause for the other 34 homicide cases at this time.

“We are looking at different ways that we can address that conflict within the communities before it results in violence,” Harris said.

Some of those initiatives include the expansion of technological resources, like shot detection and more security cameras.

Harris also said the department has increased collaboration with federal partners like the FBI and ATF. They have also put a focus on partnerships with city council members, Montgomery Public Schools, CrimeStoppers, local clergy, the probate court, and the Montgomery Area of Mental Health Authority.

Harris added that though the homicide total is high, they are making arrests. MPD reports that of the 75 homicides this year, 56 arrests have been made. Harris said MPD’s solvability rate for homicides is at 76%, which is above the national average.

“What often does not get said is we’ve impounded over 1,650 firearms this year. So where we have 75 homicides, we are actively taking weapons off the street. We are locking up offenders and we are seeking better solutions,” Harris said.

Ahead of the state legislative session in January, Harris also said they are working with the Montgomery County district attorney’s office and law enforcement in the region to address a permit-less carry bill being proposed, House Bill 6, that they fear could add to the gun violence problem in the state.

Harris also said they are working to build better relationships with the community, which has now seen another year of crime scene tape and blue lights.

“We definitely extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones to gun violence this year, and we want to prevent that from happening to another family any opportunity that we get,” Harris said.

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