PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been a violent year in Providence.
The capital city has seen 19 homicides — the most in more than a decade — and there’s still three months to go.
But the issue isn’t unique to Rhode Island. The FBI is reporting the largest single-year jump in murders nationwide in six decades.
For Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha, there’s no question that something has to give when it comes to the violence.
“It’s raw, it’s emotional, it’s heartbreaking … there’s no doubt about that,” he said Tuesday.
Neronha said he believes the spike can be attributed to a combination of factors.
“This is a phenomena we’re seeing across the country,” Neronha added. “What we’re seeing is more bullet casings on the ground.”
Nationally, there was a nearly 30% increase in murders from 2019 to 2020, according to the FBI. Neronha said some of the blame locally is on the number of guns on the streets, along with an increase in rifles and large magazines.
“If you shoot 22 rounds into the air, the odds of hitting someone go dramatically up, which in part leads to more outcomes resulting in death,” Neronha said.
Neronha suggested we need more proactive policing to get to these individuals before crimes turn violent.
“Understanding what other criminal activity they’re doing and building cases on that criminal activity can get them off the street,” he said. “That’s the way to get this violence down.”
That belief is shared by former R.I. State Police Colonel and 12 News law enforcement analyst Steven O’Donnell.
“What I mean by proactive policing: this is police looking for crime. Going out and looking for those who are dealing drugs, selling guns, and moving drugs,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell said he believes the pandemic played a major role in the increase in violent crime.
“We know we had a pandemic which created a lot of hostilities in people’s lives,” he said. “A lot of the at-risk kids were not getting the proper mentorship during that time frame.”