With one month left in the year, murders in Atlanta have already topped the totals from the two previous years, and there are signs that killings could keep rising, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As of Thursday, 121 murders had been reported, compared with 20-year lows of 110 in 2006 and 90 in 2005. Police blame the rise in part on the year-long absence of the narcotics unit, which was disbanded after the controversial 2006 shooting of Kathryn Johnston, 92.
“The question is: Is it going to continue [to rise]?” said Dean Rojek, a University of Georgia sociologist who has studied homicides in Atlanta. “All the indications are that it should probably increase over the coming years.” The city is not coming close to bloody years in late 1980s and early 1990s, when homicides topped 200 for five straight years and peaked in 1989 at 246. One reason for the increase, says a police spokeswoman, is a gang described as one of Atlanta’s most violent in recent years. Nine alleged members of the “International Robbing Crew” have been locked up, accused of killing at least seven people in a two-year span. A new police narcotics unit hit the streets on Oct. 1, and has seized $700,000 worth of drugs and guns in its first 45 days.