Even though the United States violent crime rate is at an overall low, major U.S. cities have increased in violence.
According to this Time homicide article, several cities saw increased homicide rates in 2016 compared to the previous five years. Darrel Stephens, the Major Cities Chiefs Association executive director, said it’s too soon to tell if this increase in violence is a temporary trend or the start of an increase in violent crimes throughout the country.
The top 10 cities with the largest percent increase in homicides during 2016 are:
- Orlando, Florida (22.5%)
- Louis, Missouri (15.8%)
- Baltimore, Maryland (12.7%)
- Los Angeles County, California (11.5%)
- Chicago, Illinois (11.4%)
- Memphis, Tennessee (9.1%)
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin (6.6%)
- Prince George’s County, Maryland (5.9%)
- Kansas City, Missouri (5.4%)
- Tulsa, Oklahoma (4.7%)
Many funeral directors are talking about the impact violent crimes have on their funeral home and community. Here is what a few funeral directors from some of these cities are saying.
Funeral director Spencer Leak of Leak and Sons Funeral Home is coping with the rise in Chicago violence. His funeral home has seen an increase in homicide victims, including young children. He’s trying to make a difference by not turning away any family in need. He works with families to give them a memorable funeral service for their loved one. Even if they have limited money and resources, he finds a way to make it happen.
Kansas City Violence
Funeral director Lawrence Jones, Jr. of Laurence A. Jones and Sons Funeral Chapel also has seen an increase in homicide victims. The increase in Kansas City violence is difficult for the funeral home to comprehend, especially since a lot of the victims are young adults or children. Jones said he didn’t go into the funeral profession to bury young people. It takes an emotional toll on him and his staff.
Funeral director Angie Moore of New Pitts Mortuary said, unfortunately, homicide victims aren’t uncommon at her funeral home. In this article about the increase in Milwaukee homicides, she recalls a funeral service for a young girl who was only six years old when she was fatally shot. She said it was an emotional experience restoring the body from the damages. As a mother, she emphasizes with the grieving family as it could happen to anyone.
St. Louis Violence
Funeral director Ronald Jones of Ronald L. Jones Funeral Chapels calls the increase in homicides “the disease of violence.” His funeral home restores the bodies of too many homicide victims. Jones is making a difference by being a mentor and visiting prisoners, students, and community members to help stop violent crimes.
How Your Funeral Home Can Help
There are many ways your funeral home can take a stand against violent crime. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Organize a Stop the Violence rally or parade in your community
- Educate your community about how to confront domestic violence
- Team up with national or local organizations such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or Futures Without Violence to gain insight and resources
- Start regular community meetings for brainstorming ways to end violent crimes and help those in the midst of it
- Join the National Campaign to Stop Violence to educate teenagers about the impact of violence and help them create trusting relationships and resources
How does your funeral home come together with your community during tough times? Share your thoughts in the comments below.