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Cleveland, Akron in national spotlight for crime in 2020

Both cities saw massive increases in homicides last year.

CLEVELAND — A sobering reality is placing Cleveland and Akron in the national spotlight. In 2020, both cities saw a massive uptick in violent crime. 

Reporting in The New York Times shows 2020 was the worst year for murders in Cleveland in decades. The Cleveland Division of Police tells 3News that there were 175 homicides last year, an increase of 54 from 2019. 

"The City of Cleveland and urban areas across the United States have been severely affected by skyrocketing violent crime statistics including shootings and homicides. While many of the cases can be traced to incidents of drug and gang activity, the exact cause of the drastic increase is unknown. Investigators continue to work hard every day to solve cases while policing in unprecedented circumstances in times where situations and resources change rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Law Enforcement continue to encourage citizens to report criminal activity to police and remind members of the public that they can do so anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 216-25-CRIME," the city said in a statement originally issued in November 2020, but sent out again on Monday evening in its COVID-19 report.

Former Cleveland City Councilman and community activist Zack Reed says the problem goes way beyond COVID-19. 

"Nothing stops a bullet like a job," Reed told 3News. "If you are not invested in those communities, creating economic development, creating jobs, you're going to see violence on the other side."

Meanwhile, Akron is also reporting alarming numbers. An NBC report shows more children lost their lives in 2020 to gun violence than in years past. Over a single, four-month stretch, six kids under the age of 16 were killed. 

Overall, Akron eclipsed its previous record-high year for homicides in mid-October. A total of 55 people were killed in Akron as of Dec. 30, up nearly 45 percent from last year. 

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Editor's Note: The below story detailing homicides in Cleveland in 2019, aired on January 1, 2020