EPD: Small spike in homicides during 2020

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Data has been released showing how the crime rate in Evansville fared in 2020 versus years past and how COVID-19 played a role.

Evansville Police Dept. officials say there has been a small spike in the number of homicides for 2020 – with seven of those killings remaining unsolved.

Evansville Police Dept. Public Information Officer Sgt. Nick Winsett said the pandemic very well could have had an impact on the numbers. 

“The main reason why we have some unsolved murders at this point is we are still waiting for people to come forward with information we so desperately need,” Sgt. Winsett said. “Initially things were shut down, people weren’t allowed to go places and that sort of thing and it very well could have laid a hand in this, we’re not really sure, we can’t really chalk it up to that, but it wouldn’t surprise me if (the pandemic) had something to do with it.”

From a shooting that killed two people in May – to a Halloween night fatal crash turned homicide investigation – 2020 saw an increase in the number of murders – and those left unsolved.

In 2018 there were 10 murders, 2019 saw 11, and in 2020 – 15 murders were reported.

City Council President Alex Burton says more needs to be done to combat ongoing gun violence across the city and he says anything is on the table. 

“If I don’t do anything else this year it’s going to be working very closely with the prosecutor’s office, the police department, the schools and youth in general to reduce the amount of gun violence that’s happening,” President Burton said.

Burton says there’s a much bigger problem at hand than just guns.

“It’s not just guns, it’s guns with also nothing else to do,” Burton said. “When there’s not effective programming in place, this is the type of thing that can really damage families in our neighborhoods and our entire community.”

Evansville police have a message for the community as they still search for answers in over half a dozen homicides from 2020. 

“If you see something, even if you don’t think it’s important, it might be something to break the case,” Sgt. Winsett said. “So whatever information you might have, just come forward.” 

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said after community discussions with organizations like Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment (CAJE) and members of the city council – the city is exploring a partnership with National Network For Safe Communities.

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(This story was originally published on January 4, 2021)

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