Fact Check

Herschel Walker Cites Outdated Crime Figures in False Attack on Raphael Warnock

Since Democrat Raphael Warnock of Georgia has been in the U.S. Senate, homicides and rapes in Atlanta have not increased by nearly as much as Republican Herschel Walker said in a Fox News interview.

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Atlanta Police Department crime data show that, as of Sept. 3, homicides were up about 16% this year when compared with roughly the same period in 2020, the year before Warnock took office. Meanwhile, rapes were up about 22% as of Sept. 3, when compared with the almost identical point in 2020.

However, on “Sunday Morning Futures” on Sept. 11, Walker falsely claimed that those crimes have increased by much higher percentages.

“Right now, in crime, homicides in Atlanta is up 47% since Raphael Warnock has got in office,” he said. “Rape is up over 200% since Raphael Warnock got in office. They believe on being soft on crime.”

His claim was based on outdated figures from February covering a short period of time that does not reflect the increase in crime since Warnock took office.

Furthermore, an expert in criminal justice and criminology told CBSNews.com.ng that Warnock, as a U.S. senator, has almost no control over policies that would affect crime at the local level — contrary to what Walker’s claim suggests.

Walker, a former football star, is challenging Warnock for the seat the senator and reverend has held since Jan. 20, 2021.

Atlanta Crime

To fact-check Walker’s claim about crime in Georgia’s capital, we went to the website of the Atlanta Police Department, which posts crime reports weekly.

The most recent report shows that, compared with almost the exact same period two years ago, the 111 homicides so far in 2022 are up 16% from the 96 homicides at a similar point in 2020. And the 88 instances of rape this year are up 22% from the 72 rapes recorded around the same time in 2020.

Warnock won his Senate runoff race against then-incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler on Jan. 5, 2021, and he was sworn into office about two weeks later.

To support Walker’s claim, a campaign spokesman emailed us a link to a Daily Mail article published in February.

“Atlanta Police Department statistics revealed on Friday, that homicides are up 43 percent for 2022 compared to the same period, from January 1 to February 12, in 2021,” the British news outlet reported. “In total, there were 20 homicides so far in 2022 compared to 14 last year.”  

The tabloid added, “Rapes are also up an astounding 236 percent, with 37 reported so far this year, compared to 11 at the same time in 2021.”

But those figures are now almost seven months old and they do not reflect what is happening in Atlanta now compared with before Warnock was in the Senate.

On an annual basis, homicides in Atlanta increased from 99 in 2019 to 157 in 2020 and to 158 in 2021. At the same time, rapes declined from 219 in 2019 to 119 in 2020 and then increased to 166 in 2021.

As of Sept. 3 this year, homicides are up about 8% from the same period in 2021, and rapes are down about 12% from that same point last year.

Moreover, even if Walker had not cited out-of-date crime statistics to make a flawed comparison, it’s also false to suggest that Warnock is responsible for an increase in Atlanta crime, one expert told us.

“The operation of the Atlanta Police Department is a local jurisdiction matter and the federal government has very little control over the operational realities of a local police department,” Dean Dabney, a professor in the department of criminal justice and criminology at Georgia State University, said in an interview.

“Making an assertion that a senator has an impact on criminal justice policy at the local level reflects a lack of understanding of the separation of powers,” he said.


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