2012 Murder Rate Shows Steady Increase

(Memphis) The murder rate in the city of Memphis has continued to climb for three consecutive years, with a total of 157 people killed in 2012. That amounts to one murder every two to three days of the year.

Of those 157, 16 of them are ruled “justifiable,” where someone may have acted in self-defense and will therefore not be charged with a crime.

That number has decreased from the 28 justifiable homicides in 2011.

Taking the justifiable homicides out of the mix, the murder rate increased more than 18 percent from 2011 to 2012. If one includes the justifiable homicide, the overall rate increased by nearly seven percent.

Similar increases happened from 2010 to 2011.

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said in a statement:

“It is unfortunate that murder is not a crime that can be tracked through statistics. Due to the fact that most homicides occur between a known victim and suspect, we cannot predict where the next one will take place. As a community, we must work together to find the root problems that cause this type of crime to occur. Hopefully through community policing, realignment of manpower throughout the City of Memphis, and by bringing our resources to every precinct (such as investigative bureaus), we will see a difference in 2013. Together we can change not only the perception, but the reality of a better quality of life for our entire community.”

For Herbert Stein Barnett, the grandmother of an 18-year-old gunned down outside the Westwood Community Center in September, change cannot come soon enough.

“I don’t have a solution to the problem. But I’m a voter. I wish somebody would just hear me. Hear my plea,” she said.

Devail Lewis is the second grandson she’s buried.

“I’m 67 years old. My children are supposed to be burying me. I’m not supposed to be burying my grandkids.”

It’s been three months since her grandson died, but the pain doesn’t go away.

“We got Christmas, we had Thanksgiving, and my grandson wasn’t there. And I sit, and look across that field, and think he’ll come, but he …We got to do something. We got to get these guns off the street.”

Barnett said the easy access to guns is a major part of the problem. She observes too many people resorting to gun violence as a means of ending disputes.

She said whatever the solution may be, she’s tired of seeing young people die.

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