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More guns and fewer police officers are blamed for spike in homicides

U.S. grapples with surge in homicides
U.S. grapples with surge in homicides 02:19

It's been a violent year in America. More than 1,000 people have been murdered in Illinois' Cook County, a nearly 50% increase since 2019. In Philadelphia, over 500 were murdered, a 12% increase from 2020. 

Baltimore also saw an increase in murders — 311 so far in 2021 compared to 302 at this point a year earlier. 
The city's police commissioner, Michael Harrison, blamed gun violence.

"Whether it's young people, whether it's older people, people solving their conflict with violence, namely gun violence," Harrison told CBS News. 

Another factor, Harrison said, is the rise of ghost guns — firearms that lack commercial serial numbers and can be assembled at home. His officers have seized more than 300 ghost guns this year.

"People can order them online in parts, have the parts delivered to the home, assemble the gun in a home within an hour and have a fully functional gun that cannot be traced," Harrison said. 

There are also fewer police officers on the streets. After steady growth for decades, local police lost about 1% of its workforce from 2019 to 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After George Floyd's death in 2020 and a summer of protests demanding police reform, some major cities, like New York City and Oakland, cut police funding. 

"We did a survey of a couple of hundred police departments showing retirements increasing, resignations increasing," said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum. "The workforce is shrinking." 

The senseless violence has often claimed the lives of innocent children. In August, 8-year-old PJ Evans was killed in a barrage of gunfire during a family gathering in Prince George's County, Maryland. 

"It's just straight gun violence at this point to where it's just senseless," said Evans' uncle Antoine Dotson. 

Three men have been charged in connection with the young boy's death.

Dotson has sought comfort in his faith but admitted even that is not enough. 

"A lot of people say, you know, you turn to the church and, you know, it was time for him to gain his wings as an angel," Dotson said. "I'm still struggling with losing him and not having him here in my presence." 

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