YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — For about a quarter century, Americans thought crime rates were rising even though — by and large — they weren’t.

That’s no longer just perception. Crime rates — although generally still below record levels of the late 1980s and early 1990s — are rising nationally and locally.

An example, albeit just one data point: In late May, York — both the county and city — is already approaching its total homicides for all of last year:

Total homicides through May 26 of each year

YearYork CountyYork city
Source: York Co. coroner; *excludes one person who was shot in Adams County and died in York County


“It just seems like people are trying to solve their disputes with guns right away or with their hands,” as happened Wednesday night, said Pam Gay, the county’s coroner. “I just think we’ve lost the art of being able to discuss things with each other in a calm nature.”

She said the trend isn’t new.

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“But for years, we haven’t really been seeing much improvement when it comes to people being able to handle things with each other very well,” Gay said.

She said the year-to-date homicide totals aren’t the only thing that stand out.

“We had a week, a couple weeks ago, when we had four in one week. I hadn’t seen that ever in my time as coroner” dating back to 2014, Gay said.

“We’ve had two murder-suicides,” including one last weekend that took the life of a popular teacher, Gay said. “We’ve gone years without any murder-suicides.”

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With so many homicides — not to mention numerous other less-noticed cases investigated by a coroner’s office, including drug overdoses — do the folks working there ever become desensitized?

No, Gay said.

“Each one, we get very involved with the families,” Gay said. “So I think that helps us stay grounded. You know, we can see that person had a life — had people they loved, who then loved them back.”

More deaths mean more heartache.

“We’re always trying to show our compassion to the survivors, those who are left behind,” Gay said. “So it’s a tough job now.”

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