Pandemic has driven crime up, and AU experts want to know why

Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 6:31 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 12:08 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Amid a continuing surge in violent crime that’s clamed more than 30 lives across the CSRA since mid-April, we’re looking at some of the reasons.

Among them is the pandemic’s impact.

Looking at data locally, in 2020, we saw a slight dip in total shootings from the year before. Then in 2021, shootings and aggravated assaults jumped by 22 percent.

This year, we’re on pace to have similar numbers to last year.


We recently went over data with Augusta University experts to see if there is a larger connection between the pandemic and crime.

We shared homicide data and the number of shootings that have happened over the past five years.

There are indications that the pandemic is causing more homicides, but experts say Augusta is a small sample size compared to bigger cities.

Two professors at Augusta University are looking at a much larger picture.

They have a new study that was recently published that is showing a concerning increase in certain crimes.

The pandemic felt like a never-ending nightmare for almost every single person. Work halted, kids were out of school, and there was an uncertain future.

AU professors Kim Davies and Gregg Murray are looking at the impact of the pandemic.

“I think we’re going to have to look at the research and see if people bounce back to how they were before or if this has a long-standing impact,” said Davies, professor of sociology.

She is talking about the new study they published looking at the effects the stay-at-home order had on people.

Gregg Murray is a professor of political science at AU.

He said, “We found that it looks like when stay-at-home orders were issued, homicide rates increased.”

They looked at homicide rates in 10 U.S. cities all over the nation. Those killings increased in seven of those cities.

“We all know that stay-at-home orders are a strong tool for fighting infectious diseases, but we know there are dramatic social and economic effects for them as well,” he said.

The study also found homicides continued to rise even after the mandates were lifted.

“This sort of stuff is really important because it talks about the unintended consequences of public policies,” said Murray. “There will be people getting PhDs now that will probably be studying this for the rest of their careers.”

They say they’d like to look at regional data. That means they want to look at how Georgia compares to places like California, in the long run, to see if our state opening early could have an impact on health.