City of Tucson seeing significant increase in youth committing violent crimes
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Homicides continue to climb in the City of Tucson, but violent crimes among youth are also seeing a sharp increase.
This year, the Tucson Police Department expects to surpass the highest number of homicides the city has ever seen.
As of today, the TPD has recorded 57 homicides. That’s compared to 34 at this time last year.
But what officials say is more concerning is the amount of juveniles who are becoming both suspects and victims.
“When we talk about the number of youth victims, as well as the youth offenders, I will say that there’s a significant increase in what we’ve witnessed over the past years,” says Lt. Corey Doggett, with TPD’s Violent Crimes Unit.
It’s a trend we’re seeing nationwide. The city of Tucson’s highest number of homicides came in 2009 with 74, and the department expects to surpass that total this year.
But there are many questions as to why this is happening. Police do not have a definitive answer, but Lt. Doggett says kids hanging out in groups seems to be playing a big part, as they are easily influenced.
“That grouping is what’s leading to a lot of these altercations. Now not in every case. Sometimes we are not able to connect it being a large group, sometimes it’s single individual on single individual where they’re arguing or there’s an argument that took place. But specific to the youths, that’s more the common trend is that they feed off of one another,” says Doggett.
In a statement, nonprofit group Homicide Survivors says, “At HSI we are concerned by the troubling increase in violent crime in our area. Nobody deserves to endure the murder of a loved one…Due to this, we have teamed up with TPD and have an advocate embedded at their office to help support their detectives when working with families.”
So just how quickly can things be turned around? Lt. Doggett says it will take time, but TPD relies heavily on the community.
“If we can get the younger children to avoid being in these group, violent gangs if you will, these organizations-- if you can keep them from carrying the guns, being in different locations and finding themselves in physical fights, things like that, I think it would likely decrease those numbers of homicides because that is where we find it is the people responding to some sort of stimuli and they engage in responding with a weapon,” says Doggett.
Police also say things like meeting in a safe spot for any transactions with people you met online, and just knowing who your kids are with and what they are doing could be key to decreasing these violent crimes.
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