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Grand Rapids' record broken for most homicides in a single year is 'unacceptable' says GRPD

police crime scene tape
Tony Webster via Wikimedia | CC BY 3.0

2020 has officially become the deadliest year in Grand Rapids’ history, after a murder over the weekend broke the city’s record for the number of homicides in a single year. Some records aren’t made to be broken, but that is the reality facing the Grand Rapids Police Department, as the city’s 35th homicide Sunday tops the previous high mark for homicides in a single year, 34, set back in 1993.

And if 2020 couldn’t get much worse, the number of murders this year is three times the average number of homicides the city usually sees by December. Here’s Grand Rapids Police Sgt. Dan Adams.

“This is not Grand Rapids, this is completely unacceptable,” Adams said. “It is just 35 families this year that have experienced the most tragic of events, and that is 35 families that will never get to spend time with that individual again.”

And while unacceptable, its a burden that the GRPD shares with other police departments across the country, as cities across the nation are dealing with a skyrocketing homicide rate.

Jeff Asher is a criminal justice analytics expert who has worked for both the United States Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense.

"A lot of times, people like to point to big cities like Chicago, where murders are up 58 percent,” Asher said. “But it's small cities as well, Grand Rapids is a perfect example, so it does seem to be a national trend.”

So the obvious question then. What is going on?

“The pandemic is the obvious answer,” Asher said. “We still haven’t beaten COVID-19 if you haven’t noticed, and so there is no reason to believe that there is some other (major) cause beyond the emotional, medical and physiological stresses and financial stresses caused by the pandemic.”

Asher adds however, that another contributing factor could be the civil unrest caused after the murder of George Floyld.

Meanwhile, Grand Rapids has averaged about one murder every week and-a-half in 2020.

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