COLUMBIA — The number of murders in South Carolina went up more than 20 percent in 2011, while the states overall violent crime rate went down, state police said Monday.
Violent crimes reached 1,816 for 2011 in Horry County, where a unit was created earlier this year to combat street level crime numbers, said Sgt. Robert Kegler with Horry County police. The unit is an initiative by Chief Saundra Rhodes and is designed to handle crimes such as burglaries, street level drug sales and to combat gang activity.
Statewide there were 322 murders in 2011, up from 265 the year before, according to a report released by the State Law Enforcement Division. Thats a 21 percent increase from 2010 to 2011 and a more than 5 percent increase over the last decade.
The division compiles the data from law enforcement agencies around the state. The report defines murder as the willful killing of another based on police investigation and not the determination of a court.
Nearly 67 percent of those crimes in 2011 were perpetrated by someone using a gun. About 12 percent were knife crimes. The most murders 32 happened in Greenville, while Jasper County had the highest murder rate, of 2.78 crimes per 10,000 residents.
The numbers are part of SLEDs Uniform Crime Report.
Chief Mark Keel says South Carolinas 2010 murders were the states lowest since record-keeping began in 1975.
Overall, violent crime in South Carolina went down by 1.1 percent in 2011, from 28,197 crimes to 27,883, and have dropped by more than 18 percent in the last decade, SLED said. But such crimes are actually up by 94 percent compared to 1975, and the state rate has exceeded the national crime rate every year since except for one, 1995.
The most violent crimes happened in Charleston, at a rate of 51.6 crimes per 10,000 residents. But the county with the highest violence rate was Greenwood, with 188.3 crimes per 10,000 people.
Statewide, rapes were up by 7.1 percent since 2010, and larcenies were up by more than 1 percent. The number of robberies dropped by 7 percent.
While the decrease in overall violent crime is encouraging, increases in some categories tell us theres still much work to be done, Keel said.