Memphis’ 118 criminal homicides so far this year is a total up 25 percent from last year’s low, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. It is also well below a peak of 198 in 1993. University of Memphis criminologist Richard Janikowski said that because the number of homicides is very small, fluctuations are to be expected and may be driven by factors such as domestic violence and the economy.
Police and criminologists prefer to focus on criminal homicides, leaving out justifiable homicides such as killings in self-defense or in the line of duty by officers where no criminal charges are found. Memphis has recorded 28 justifiable homicides so far in 2011, up from 19 in 2010, including four police shootings this year and three last year. Including those figures, Memphis has so far recorded 146 homicides in 2011, up from 112 in 2010.