MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Shelby Crime Commission released its 2020 numbers Wednesday.
The numbers are based on preliminary figures from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The figures show major property crime and overall crime continued a steady downward trend in 2020 both in Memphis and countywide. However, the report shows a significant increase in major violent crime, driven by murders and aggravated assaults. Reported gun crimes also increased.
In Memphis, the violent crime rate went up 24.3% in 2020 compared to the previous year. Countywide, the increase was 23.1%.
The Memphis Shelby Crime Commission determines the overall crime rate using 54 separate categories tracked by the TBI. Compared to 2019, the overall crime rate dropped 1.5% in Memphis and 2.7% in all of Shelby County. Looking at the longer trend, overall crime was down 22.9% in Memphis compared to 15 years earlier (2006) and 25.8% countywide.
According to the report, the biggest and most serious challenge remains violent crime, driven by gun violence. The major violent crime rate includes murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. In Memphis, the violent crime rate soared in 2020 compared to 2019 – up 24.3%. Countywide, the increase was 23.1%. Murders increased 49.0% in Memphis compared to 2019 and 45.9% countywide. Reported aggravated assaults jumped by a disturbing 35.4% in Memphis and 34.3% countywide. At the same time, though, reported robberies dropped 12.1% in Memphis and 13.8% throughout Shelby County.
According to the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission’s report, gun violence is a critical factor in the jump in violent crime. For example, according to the Memphis Police Department, of the record-breaking 332 homicides in 2020, 262 of them (79%) were with a gun. According to data from MPD, there were 6,454 reported violent incidents involving guns in 2020 – a 24.6% jump compared to 2019.