LUBBOCK, Texas — The Texas Department of Public Safety and the FBI released data this week detailing a state and country-wide rise in crime, particularly in homicides.
“It’s a strange time to be in law enforcement,” said Lubbock Country Criminal District Attorney, Sunshine Stanek.
According to FBI data, in 2020, murder increased by 30 percent across the country – the largest single-year increase ever recorded. The State of Texas also saw murders rise by 37 percent, according to DPS data.
In Lubbock, the homicide rates also increased in 2020 to 105 percent more than in 2019. There were just 20 homicides in 2019 and 41 in 2020, according to FBI statistics.
“The homicide rate is rising and it truly has but what’s important is that we continue to adapt to this trend,” said Stanek.
Stanek also said that during the pandemic, Lubbock saw a rise in all violent crime, some of that leading to this increase in homicides. With drugs, abuse of firearms, and domestic violence the leading reasons for these homicides.
“We saw this across the country. People staying home, a rise in drug use, a rise in crimes in general, which leads to violence,” said Stanek.
Currently there are around 80 pending murder cases in Lubbock county. Those cases include homicides, manslaughters and criminally negligent homicides.
But cases that require a jury trial are stuck as COVID has put a pause on jury trials.
“We were still doing pleas and anything we could do outside of a jury trial to move a case – we were doing that,” said Stanek,
But fortunately, the Lubbock County Detention Center avoided reaching capacity.
“We were able to very quickly implement procedure where that didn’t happen,” said Stanek.
Some relief will come to the case backlog in the coming weeks when jury trials are once again allowed.
Despite this backlog and the spike in crime, the DA believes Lubbock is still a safe place to live.
“It’s going to be a very rare thing for you to find yourself, you or a family member, to be the victim of a random act of violence and victim of homicide in this community,” said Stanek.
So far in 2021, crime overall has gone down by 2.8 percent in the state and 6.4 percent in Lubbock.