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Once Again, Homicide Records Fall in Many Big Cities With Graphic

January 3, 1992

Undated (AP) _ For many American cities, 1991 followed a tragic pattern: another year, another increase in violent deaths.

At least three of the nation’s 10 largest cities set homicide records, and in a fourth - Los Angeles - it seemed almost certain that a record was broken, although year-end statistics weren’t available Thursday. Several smaller cities also set records.

″Whether you personally are ever shot at or not, you should be concerned,″ said Mayor Richard Vinroot of Charlotte, N.C., where the 115 homicides in 1991 easily surpassed the 1990 record of 93.

Explanations for the increase vary. Drugs and gang warfare get much of the blame, although some experts also point to a bulge in the population of people in their teens and early 20s, which is the most violent age group.

Criminologists also have noted an alarming increase in killing among young black men.

In Milwaukee, police also said about 75 percent of the year’s homicide victims were black males, many of them victims of violence involving street gangs, drugs, sidewalk holdups and thefts of fashionable clothing. Thirteen of last year’s record 168 homicides were attributed to confessed killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Among the nation’s 10 largest cities, records fell in San Diego, Dallas and Phoenix. San Diego’s 179 homicides broke a record of 163 set in 1988. The 501 in Dallas was up from a record 444 in 1990. And Phoenix’s 150 broke the record 142 set in 1990.

New York City, Chicago and San Antonio all recorded their second-highest homicide totals. New York’s approximately 2,200 homicides still gave it by far the highest total of any city. Chicago reached 924 with the New Year’s Eve shooting of a South Side security guard. Houston had 671 homicides; San Antonio, 211.

Detroit’s unofficial total of 610 homicides was well short of its record 714 in 1974, but up 5 percent from 1990. Philadelphia had 468 homicides in 1991, down from 525 in 1990; police gave credit to better enforcement of drug laws.

Los Angeles police had records only up to Dec. 21. They showed 1,006 homicides, up from 966 at the same time in 1990. It appeared likely that the year-end totals would break the previous record of 1,024 set in 1980.

Among the smaller cities setting homicide records was Washington, which was the nation’s murder capital in 1990, based on its per-capita rate of almost 78 homicides per 100,000 people. In 1991, the nation’s capital recorded 490 homicides, up from 483 in 1990. The detailed ranking of each city’s 1991 per- capita murder rates will be issued later this year by the FBI.

Other cities setting records included Oakland, Calif., with 165; Minneapolis with 62; Anchorage, Alaska, with 26; Columbus, Ohio, with 137; Colorado Springs with 26; New Orleans with 346; and Rochester, N.Y., with 66.

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