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Columbus Police Blame Coronavirus For Rise In Violent Crime

Columbus Police vehicles outside the division headquarters.
David Holm
Columbus Police vehicles outside the division headquarters.

Columbus Police report violent crimes in the city are on the rise, which officials link to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Every single month since the pandemic, our numbers have increased, violent crime specific to gun violence,” says Columbus Division of Police spokesman Sgt. James Fuqua.

Fuqua says violence among teenagers has been increasing for the past couple of months. A 14-year-old boy was shot and killed in the Linden area two weeks ago. Two other teens have been charged with his murder.

Columbus Police reported 59 homicides last Friday, compared to 55 last year at the same time. 

“It’s unfortunate because a lot of it has to do this year with the COVID crisis, and I believe people being quarantined and stuck inside the house,” Fuqua says.

According to Fuqua, the shootings are spread throughout the city. He says teenagers and others are still limited in some of their regular summer activities because of the pandemic.

“It’s something that is very sad,” Fuqua says. “It’s plagued our community for far too long and it is something that we’ve tried to evolve and continue to find ways to address.”

He adds that some officers had been redirected to work at the downtown Black Lives Matter protests and were limited in responding to non-violent calls.

“Currently, our solve rate is about 50% to the homicides this year in 2020, and to make a case go we need evidence and we need witnesses,” Fuqua says.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.