Pennsylvania ranked in top 10 for Black homicide victimization, Harrisburg crime increased

Pennsylvania

(WHTM) — Pennsylvania is ranked #7 for the highest Black homicide victimization rate in the nation. 

In a new study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC), Pa. has a victimization rate of 27.45 per 100,000, more than five times the overall homicide rate nationwide. This study is based on unpublished data from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report from 2018, the most recent year where national data is available.

Since this report has started being issued, Pa. has always been ranked in the top 10. 

“In 2018, Black men, women, boys, and girls were only 14% of our nation’s population, yet accounted for 50% of all homicide victims,” VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann said. “These deaths devastate families, traumatize communities, and almost always involve a gun. The goal of our research is to help support community advocates and organizations working on the ground to stop this lethal violence while, at the same time, continuing to educate and engage the public and policymakers on the need to address this ongoing national crisis.”

There were 448 Black victims in Pa., with 88% being male, and the average age 31 years old. Most crimes were committed by someone they knew, at 83%. 

There were about 110 incidents nationwide that were at the hands of police in 2018, but the FBI is very strict on limiting the amount of data released, such as whether it was justifiable. In 2020, only a select number of law enforcement agencies released that data. It is promised, however, that it will be improved with the help of the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

The crime rate in Harrisburg, Pa. is 24% above the national average according to the FBI. It logged more homicides in 2020 than it did in over 30 years. In one day, Harrisburg officers responded to 67 “shots fired” calls. Mayor Papenfuse and Police Commissioner Thomas Carter last year said they are investing $1 million in efforts to lower violent crime. Carter also said he strives to not shoot back at anybody.

“I don’t give up on people, especially our youth,” Carter said back in 2020. “I believe they are worth saving.”

While there were no specific details on whether Black people were victimized in Harrisburg, the city does host a large minority population, with over 51% being Black, and the poverty rate is 26%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

The study goes on to mention the higher risk of violence comes from communities that present negative health and behavior outcomes. 

In 2018, the national rate was 18.18 per 100,000, and overall it’s 4.92 per 100,000. And in the U.S. and Pa., over 80% of the homicides involve guns.

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