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Birmingham’s Drop In 2023 Homicides Mirrors National Trend

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By Carol Robinson | crobinson@al.com

Birmingham’s homicide tally in 2023 dropped for the first time in five years after years of steady increases brought the deadly toll to a historic high.

The city ended 2023 with 135 homicides, a 6.25 percent decrease from 2022 when the city had 144 homicides, marking the deadliest year in recent Birmingham history.

The 2022 homicide total surpassed the highest number recorded in recent memory — 141 in 1991. Birmingham’s all-time record for homicides was in 1933 with 148 slayings.

“We increased every year over the past four years up through last year so to finally be showing a decrease is a good thing,” said Birmingham Police Chief Scott Thurmond.

Birmingham ended 2021 with 132 homicides; 2020 with 122 homicides; 2019 with 106 homicides; and 2018 with 107 homicides.

“It’s not the decrease I would want, but it’s a move in the right direction,” Thurmond said of 2023′s homicide total.

In those same years, Birmingham’s population droppedAlabama’s largest city until the 2020 Census, Birmingham, with a population of 197,575, is now the state’s fourth-largest city.

Violence in Birmingham, Jefferson County: By the numbers

In 2023, Birmingham saw the number of shootings in which no one was killed plummet. Calls of shots fired dropped 9.4 percent in 2023.

The number of shooting victims who survived was 200 as of Dec. 28, down from 326 on the same date in 2022.

Of the 135 homicides in Birmingham in 2023, nine were ruled justifiable and are not deemed criminal.

Police do not have to submit non-criminal homicides to the FBI, so Birmingham police lists their 2023 homicide numbers as 126. AL.com counts non-criminal homicides in its tally.

In all of Jefferson County in 2023, there were 195 homicides. That’s just one more than the number of homicides countywide in 2022.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office recorded 197 homicides in 2023.

That includes a 2016 shooting victim who died in 2023, which Birmingham police and AL.com are not including, and the death of a state prison inmate at the hands of another inmate, which AL.com also is not using in its countywide tally.

The other 60 homicides happened in Bessemer, Fairfield, Fultondale, Gardendale, Homewood, Hueytown, Irondale, Leeds, Midfield, Pleasant Grove, Warrior, Lipscomb, Brookside and the unincorporated county.

‘A Sizable Decline’ In Violent Crime

Birmingham is mirroring a national trend as the nationwide homicide rate was expected to drop nearly 13% compared to 2022, meaning more than 2,000 fewer people were victims of homicide in 2023 than 2022, national crime analyst Jeff Asher told ABC News.

Asher calls the decline “historic,” although the public perceives murder to be on the rise.

“Americans tend to think that crime is rising, but the evidence we have right now points to sizable declines,” Asher wrote in Substack.

Double-digit drops were reported in major cities such as New York (11.42% as of Dec. 24), Los Angeles (15.45% as of Dec. 23) and Chicago (12.7% as of Dec. 27), Forbes reported.

Thurmond, in part, attributes the Birmingham decrease to increased efforts by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to work together.

“We’re combining all of our resources and looking at the people who are causing the problems and trying to go after those people – our trigger pullers,” he said.

For the 126 criminal homicides, July was the deadliest month with 15.

Homicides in the other 11 months were: January, 10; February, 2; March, 11; April, 11; May, 11, June, 10; August, 10; September, 10; October, 12; November 12, and December, 12.

The majority of the killings – 54 – took place between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. There were 36 homicides between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m., and 36 between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Of the victims, 96 were Black males, 19 were Black females, four were white males, one was a white female, four were Hispanic, and two were listed as “other.”

Of the known suspects, 76 were Black and four were white.

Handguns were used in 79, while rifles were used in 43, and a shotgun was used in one. Blunt force trauma led to two deaths.

The West Precinct, the city’s largest geographical area, had 51 homicides. There were 30 in the North Precinct, 21 in the East Precinct and 15 in the South Precinct.

This story originally appeared on www.al.com. For full story click here Birmingham homicides in 2023 dropped for first time in 5 years: Here are the 135 victims – al.com