Does warm weather lead to increase in violent crime?

Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins acknowledged that shootings usually rise 'when summer comes'

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Lincoln Police Chief Teresa Ewins says two shootings over the weekend were not related.

The first shooting happened early Saturday morning on the sidewalk outside of Gravity bar on O Street. Three people were shot, and all three suffered serious injuries, with one person in critical condition.

On Sunday, another shooting occurred at a house party on North 30th Street. Three people were shot. Two men were pronounced dead at the scene; the other is in stable condition.

“I feel very confident that these are incidents that occurred, and it just happened to be on the same weekend,” Ewins said.

Ewins acknowledged that it is possible that warm weather plays a role in increases in violent crime, generally speaking.

“When summer comes is usually when this happens,” Ewins said. “There’s increased drinking, a lot of parties that are occurring, we’re coming out of COVID in a more rapid rate. I think that can contribute to that.”

Channel 8 asked LPD for month-to-month data on crimes. The department referred us to its Crime Analysis data, which does not have a month-by-month breakdown but does show that violent crimes are down 3% year to date compared to last year and down 13% from the average rate of the past five years.

“Our city is not becoming more violent,” Ewins said. “These are incidents that occurred in a small period of time, but I feel very confident that they are not a projection of what is coming.”

University of Nebraska at Omaha criminology professor Justin Nix said crime does tend to go up in warmer months.

“In the summertime, when school’s out, when the weather’s nicer, more potential victims and potential motivated offenders walking around, out and about interacting in time and space, and so that lends itself to more criminal victimization,” Nix said.

He cautioned not to read too much into year-to-date crime data because the sample size is simply too small.

“You’re talking about something as statistically rare as a shooting,” he said, so it’s hard to determine whether it’s a “meaningful” difference or just “noise.”

Nix said looking at data over longer periods of time is a better approach.

For instance, the past decade saw less violent crime on average than the ten years before it, per LPD data.

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