A post-pandemic murder wave appears to have ‘broken at the rocks’ of our jagged coastline — although more firearms have washed up into the hands of citizens with hostile intentions, according to annual crime statistics published by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
According to SLED, the Palmetto State’s murder rate decreased by 11.9 percent from 2021 to 2022 — the most recent year for which numbers are available. With “only” 514 murders committed during the previous year, it serves as the most harmonious period for South Carolina since the pandemic was declared three years ago.
Despite the declining overall rate, though, last year was the third most murderous year for the Palmetto State over the past three decades — eclipsed only by the chaos of 2020 and 2021. The same applies to South Carolina’s overall violent crime rate, which has dipped by a mere 3.66 percent after reaching “historic highs” in 2020.
Alongside murder and violent crime, weapons law violations climbed by 11.1 percent in 2022 and are up an astonishing 106.2 percent since 2013. According to SLED, 89.15 percent of last year’s weapon violations involved firearms including 73.43 percent which involved handguns.
“I continue to be extremely concerned about the gun violence we are seeing, especially among young people,” SLED chief Mark Keel upon the release of these numbers. “Law enforcement, elected officials, and our community partners need to continue to work together so that those who should not have access to guns are held accountable.”
Weapons charges weren’t the only crime stat on the rise. Aggravated assaults increased by 0.5 percent within the same timeframe — adding to a 13.3 percent uptick from 2018 to 2022.
The news wasn’t all bad, though. Robbery rates waned for the sixth straight year in 2022, decreasing by 18.3 percent from the previous year and reaching the lowest rate in three decades. The fall was accompanied by a historic 10.3 percent reduction in motor vehicle thefts — the lowest numbers on record since 2013.
As for sexual battery in South Carolina, it decreased by 10.5 percent from 2021 to 2022 — marking its lowest level in three decades. The number of assaults by intimate partners, larceny offenses and drug violations returned to pre-pandemic levels, as well.
Almost identical to the local trends of 2021, last year’s violent crimes were most prevalent within Dillon (168 crimes per 10,000 people), Orangeburg (141.65), Darlington (105.13), Fairfield (100.71) and Marlboro (99.86) counties. Simultaneously — Edgefield (8.17), McCormick (13.31), Pickens (25.63), Dorchester (25.82) and Saluda (27.99) counties had the lowest violent crime rates.
The greatest increase in violent crimes in 2022 occurred within Edgefield (+69.23 percent), Fairfield (+60.94 percent), Union (+44.64 percent), Chesterfield (+38.66 percent) and Marion (+36.87 percent) counties. Conversely, the greatest decreases were seen in Greenwood (-36.22 percent), McCormick (-35.00 percent), Calhoun (-25.37 percent), York (-18.56 percent) and Anderson (-16.38 percent) counties.
“Law enforcement officers continue to face challenges at a volume many have never experienced before,” continued Keel. “I have no doubt that if it weren’t for the brave men and women serving their communities, the numbers in this year’s crime report would be much worse. We can and will improve, and we must all work together.”
Also worth considering? Violent crime data reported by SLED is based on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime reporting program. Another report is released annually by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) tracking “criminal victimization.” According to that report, America’s “violent victimization rate” climbed from 16.5 victimizations per 1,000 people in 2021 to 23.5 per 1,000 in 2022.
Count on this news outlet to dig into the DOJ data to see how the Palmetto State fared …
THE REPORT …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Andrew Fancher is a Lone Star Emmy award-winning journalist from Dallas, Texas. Cut from a bloodline of outlaws and lawmen alike, he was the first of his family to graduate college which was accomplished with honors. Got a story idea or news tip for Andy? Email him directly and connect with him socially across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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