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Atlanta roughly middle of the pack among large cities in 2021 murder spikes, report says

Atlanta saw a small increase in reported homicides in 2021 over 2020.

ATLANTA — Atlanta saw a small increase in murders in 2021, putting it roughly middle of the pack among several large cities across the country surveyed in a new report tracking national crime trends.

According to the report, released Wednesday by the Council on Criminal Justice, by the end of the year homicides in 22 surveyed cities, including Atlanta, had fallen sharply from a peak seen earlier in the year.

The rate observed in November 2021 was roughly equivalent to rates seen in the summers of 2019 and 2018. For the year, the average increase observed in the 22 cities was 5.4%, which Atlanta came in under.

The city's exact increase is difficult to pin down. 

Atlanta Police reported 158 murders for 2021, but its 2020 number has fluctuated across various reports. 11Alive requested figures on New Year's Eve, and the Atlanta Police Department reported 157 for 2020, which would be less than 1% increase. However, the city's final weekly crime report for 2021 lists 152, which would be about a 4% increase - which is what the Council on Criminal Justice report listed.

Further complicating the matter, the city's final report for 2020 at that time listed 154, which would only be about a 2.5% increase. Still, none of the various numbers would put Atlanta above the average or significantly alter its standing among the other 22 cities in the survey.

Six of the cities saw murder decreases, while nine - including Atlanta - saw increases of 1-5%. The remaining seven all saw increases of 13% or greater.

Atlanta's homicide rate remains elevated over 2019, when it reported 95 murders. The city saw the same trend the Council on Criminal Justice Report noted in other cities, though, with the murder rate falling off dramatically toward the end of the year following a summer peak - a violent crime spike that became a central feature of the city's mayoral race last year, won by new Mayor Andre Dickens.

The rate of increase in murder rates from 2020 to 2021, the report notes, "was far lower than the national jump of 29% in 2020, and the 2021 homicide rate for the cities studied was just over half what it was for those cities in the early 1990s (15 deaths per 100,000 residents versus 28 per 100,000 in 1993)."

Nonetheless, it's still a 44% increase over the 2019 murder rate, the report also said.

The report also showed a 4% national average increase in aggravated assaults and 8% rise in gun assaults, though those specific numbers in Atlanta were not available.

Some types of crime, such as burglaries and drug offenses, trended downward.

Data shared by Atlanta Police in December confirmed the report's findings that, toward the end of 2021, a noticeable decline in violent crime had occurred.