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Phoenix homicides up 44%, second-highest increase behind Chicago

Homicides have been on the rise in Phoenix. A former Phoenix police commander says the numbers may get worse.

PHOENIX — New numbers are showing a troubling trend. The murder rate in Phoenix is skyrocketing. Already this year, there have been 144 homicides according to Phoenix police. That's a 44% increase from this time last year. 

All across the country, major cities are seeing a rise in homicides, but percentage-wise, only Chicago had a bigger jump. 

“When you have numbers like that, as the public you should be terrified,” Jeff Hynes, a professor at Glendale Community College and former Phoenix Police Department commander, said. 

Hynes spent more than three decades with the Phoenix police, but he said he’s never seen a trend like this.

“I'm saddened by what I'm seeing right now, and I hate to say it, but it’s only getting worse,” Hynes said. 

Hynes called the situation a "perfect storm" with public unrest and political pressure making community outreach harder. 

Hynes said the undercurrent of "defund the police" movements is causing low morale and officers are retiring. 

However, the biggest key may be the trust between law enforcement and the community.

“The relationship between your community and law enforcement is a direct connection to your crime rates,” Hynes said. 

Hynes said with a strong system of community policing, law enforcement can do preventative work. Establishing connections with those who may have domestic violence issues, or establishing trust in communities to be able to get tips and information that may prevent murders. 

Hynes said that with the current rate, he expects Phoenix to break a record for the number of homicides. 

Hynes said he expects the numbers to be bad in 2021 as well and the effects could last at least three years.

Phoenix police has declined to comment on the latest stats.

All the data and more are available here