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Springfield, MA records far highest homicide rate among New England's major cities in 2023

Springfield Police Department vehicle.
Elizabeth Román
Springfield Police Department vehicle.

Homicides were up last year in three of New England's five largest cities.

Springfield saw the largest jump, from 14 homicides in 2022 to 31 last year.

After a particularly violent summer, police spokesperson Ryan Walsh pointed out, things improved towards the end of 2023.

“Our last quarter (October-December) had the fewest homicides in six years during that time period and fewest in any three-month span since the first quarter of 2022,” Walsh said in a statement.

When measuring the number of homicides per 100,000 residents, Springfield checked in at 20.12, far and away the highest rate of the five largest cities.

That’s also close to four times higher than the rate for Boston (5.69), which has a population more than four times that of Springfield.

Walsh noted that homicide numbers should not be confused with murder statistics. Homicides also include killings found to be justifiable, which Walsh said was the case in two of Springfield's 2023 incidents.

Walsh reiterated a message the department and Mayor Domenic Sarno have repeated for some time regarding how to curb violent crime in the city: Judges need to do more to keep repeat violent offenders off of he streets.

“High-risk offenders are also high-risk victims,” he said. “Shooters no longer fear incarceration and illegal firearms are far too accessible. These are the issues that still need to be addressed in the courts and at the State House,”.

Walsh said Springfield Police seized 346 illegal firearms in 2023, which he said is a record and that the efforts “undoubtedly saved lives.”

As for Providence and Bridgeport, they each reported five more killings last year than the year before. Providence had nine in 2022 and 14 in 2023. Bridgeport saw 19 last year, up from 14 the year before.

The news was better in Worcester. The city of 205,000 residents had only six homicides in 2023, down by half from 2022. New England's second-largest city, Worcester's homicide rate was by far the lowest among the region's major cities.

“We credit this to the hard work of our officers, collaboration with local, state and federal partner agencies, strong relationships in the community, and use of technology,” Worcester Police Chief Paul Saucier said in a statement.

“Of course, one homicide is too many, and preventing violent crime is our top priority,” he said. “For 2024, we hope to build on our successful strategies to further reduce violent crime."

Boston also checked in with a decrease. The police department did not return NEPM's requests for information. But according to The Boston Herald, the city recorded 37 homicides last year, down from 41 in 2022.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.