SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The City of Syracuse saw a 55% increase in the number of homicides from 2019 to 2020.
The increase isn’t typical for this area, but an increase in violent crime is a trend that is being seen across the United States, especially in urban areas.
Last year, 31 people were murdered in Syracuse and just over 900 people were victims of aggravated assault. The three common denominators here? It’s mostly related to drugs, gang activity, or domestic violence. For the most part, these are targeted attacks, where the victim or the perpetrator do know each other and the majority of this is happening on the southwest side of the city.
To try to combat this, Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner created a gang violence task force last summer that is made up of 10 officers, hand selected for the job. They spend more than 40 hours a week going into those hotspots and keeping track of dangerous people, but they also try to work with the community.
“When you take a community that has fractures on multiple levels under the best of circumstances, and then you place that under the pressure of a pandemic, protests, unrest in a community, it’s a recipe for disappointment,” Buckner said.
As part of state mandates and on top of local efforts started by Chief Buckner and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, the police department is holding a series of community forums and working on changing its policies, starting with the fact that every officer who needs one now has a body-worn camera.