Over the recent Labor Day weekend, there were eight homicide investigations in the valley, beginning on Friday, September 3 when police were called to a reported shooting. 32-year-old Phillip Williams was found dead inside a vehicle, whereupon they got a witness account of a suspected perpetrator.
Hours later, less than half a mile from the shooting, they found the suspect and stopped his vehicle. The man barricaded himself in his car and then shot and killed himself.
The Intersection of COVID-19 and Increase in Gun Violence
Since March 2020, the country has seen an intersection of two crises: the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in gun violence, with both unintentional shootings and homicides at record levels.
The past two years have been the deadliest in history, with Las Vegas no exception. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police have already reported that murders are up 69 percent compared to last year and last year’s figures were up from the year before.
Deputy Chief James LaRochelle believes that the COVD-19 pandemic has been a factor in these rising rates. He saw people being more aggressive, leading to increased crimes of passion and hair-trigger homicides in the area.
Data Indicates Increase May Be Due to Gang and Drug Activity
While EconoFact, a nonpartisan publication offering analysis of economic and social policies, has reported a downward trend in general crime during COVID-19, the exception to that data was violent crime, with a significant spike in homicides and shootings.
Their study, dated March 2021, indicated that the greatest share of homicides and shootings were related to drug and gang activity in larger cities, saying that individuals involved in these crimes were likely undeterred by the disease implications or stay-at-home orders.
A recent report entitled Impact Report: COVID-19 and Crime, published by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, concluded:
“In response to elevated rates of homicide, the authors conclude that urgent action is required. As the pandemic subsides, pursuing crime-control strategies of proven effectiveness and enacting needed policing reforms will be essential to achieving prompt yet durable reductions in our cities.”
Metro Police Focusing Their Efforts
It is no different in Las Vegas, where metro police have focused police presence and interaction on specific areas where analysis has indicated the greatest occurrence of crime. Metro’s gang unit has worked to specifically intercede in gang violence and prevent gang retaliation, showing retaliatory violence significantly less than in other major cities.
But we also know that a focus on police presence and enforcement can often result in overzealous police overreach. We are seeing that currently with the headlines out of Louisiana showing the blatant brutality that can result when policing isn’t kept in check.
If You Have Been Charged With a Crime
If you have been charged with a crime in Las Vegas, you have the right to be treated respectfully and to a legal defense.
Contact our skilled team of Las Vegas criminal defense lawyers at LV Criminal Defense at (702) 623-6362 to discuss your charges and defense options.