By Sean Golonka/The Nevada Independent
Last year, the United States recorded the largest single-year increase in the murder rate since national record-keeping began more than 60 years ago. In Nevada, the murder rate rose 27 percent from 2019 to 2020.
Ahead of the 2022 elections, some candidates have used the climbing number of murders as political ammunition. Republican gubernatorial candidate Dean Heller has pointed blame at Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak for the escalating violence, while Nevada Democratic Victory (the Washoe County branch of the state party) has attacked Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for soaring homicide rates in the Las Vegas Valley. Outside groups supporting Lombardo are running major television advertisement campaigns touting the safety of Las Vegas last year compared to other major cities.
But those narrow and at times conflicting assertions do not capture the complexity of changes in crime.
Though Las Vegas, like many other major cities, saw murders and assaults rise last year amid protests that were at times violent and restrictions on public activity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nevada continues to see its lowest levels of crime in decades.
But the broad declines in crime over the past few years have been inconsistent. Urban areas of the state largely saw the number of aggravated assaults rise last year and fall this year, and police departments in Southern Nevada are still facing a protracted wave of homicides. Meanwhile, violent and property crime rates are continuing their downward trends.
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