Missouri tops the nation for high black homicide rate … again | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri tops the nation for high black homicide rate … again

Apr 23, 2018

Missouri has the highest black homicide rate in the United States, according to a report by the Violence Policy Center.

The study, called the Black Homicide Victimization in the United States: An Analysis of 2015 Homicide Data, examined federal data from 2015. It found that the homicide rates for blacks in Missouri is 46.24 per 100,000, more than double the national black homicide rate of 18.67 per 100,000. (The national white homicide victimization rate of 2.67 per 100,000.)

“Each day in America, the number of black homicide victims exceeds the toll in the Parkland, Florida mass shootings,” Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann said in a statement. “The devastating and disproportionate impact homicide, almost always involving a gun, has on black men, boys, women, and girls in America is an ongoing national crisis.”

The homicide rate in Missouri from 1999- 2016 continues to rank higher than in surrounding states.
Credit Richard Rosenfeld | University of Missouri-St. Louis

Federal data from the FBI Supplementary Homicide Report were used to rank the homicide rates for each state. Missouri has ranked number one in black homicide rates seven times since the release of the Violence Policy Center’s first report in 2007.

“Poverty, joblessness, racial isolation—all of those factors contribute to the conditions leading to high homicide rates and other forms of serious crime,” said Richard Rosenfeld, the Founders Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

The high rate of homicides among blacks is often attributed to larger black populations in the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City, Rosenfeld said. But overall the report found that the black homicide rate in Missouri is 10 times higher than the homicide rate in the entire U.S. population of 4.62 per 100,000.

“We have to create more opportunities, both educationally and employment-related opportunities for folks in underserved populations who are living in these communities that are more susceptible to violence,” St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt said.

Pruitt said the NAACP supports several programs to reduce the rate of black homicides, including encouraging more African-Americans to join police departments. He said the program is administered by the Ethical Society of Police which advocates for officers of color. 

Rosenfeld said law enforcement officials have several programs in place aimed at reducing the number of homicides. Those include targeted patrol strategies, such as putting more police patrols in crime hotspots. Rosenfeld said those attempts do have an effect.

“As crime is suppressed in a particular area, you don’t see crime go up in other areas,” Rosenfeld said. “What’s uncertain is how long those crime reductions will last.”

For homicides where weapons were identified, the report found that 93 percent of black homicides in Missouri occurred from gun violence. The FBI data used does include justifiable homicides of blacks who were killed by law enforcement.

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