Many big cities across the country have seen unprecedented increases in homicides this year. But the numbers are actually down in the largest cities in Massachusetts.
Boston recorded 39 homicides as of Dec. 20. That's down more than 26% from last year's total of 53. Also seeing declines were Worcester (seven homicides this year, compared to nine last year) and Springfield (14 this year; 18 last year).
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, president of the Massachusetts Major City
Chiefs of Police Association, said it's difficult to pinpoint exactly why the numbers are down.
"It's hard to tell," he said. "Where are they occurring? Who are the victims or the suspects? Really, just kind of getting all that data together."
Some smaller cities and towns across the state have seen increases. Chelsea didn't have any homicides last year. But as of mid-December this year, it recorded two.
Statewide, 148 people were killed through Dec. 20, down 7% from last year. That statewide total is less than some individual cities in other parts of the country. Columbus has seen more than 190 homicides; Indianapolis has had more than 260.
Ramiro Martinez, a homicide researcher and criminology professor at Northeastern University, cited one potential reason why the homicide rate might be lower in Massachusetts: more recent immigrants.
"Many places with higher levels of immigration have had relatively lower levels of crime," he said. "And that's something that we've seen across cities and different places across the United States over the past 20 years."
One of every six people in the Bay State was born outside the United States.