NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Violent crime in Nashville is trending in a direction no one wants to see.

“What we’ve seen is homicides have increased 30 percent,” said Metro Nashville Police Department Interim Chief John Drake. “It’s no different from anywhere else in the country. Some cities are experiencing a lot more than we are.”

In mid-November 2019 there were 72 homicides in Nashville, according to records from Metro Police. At the same time this year, there were 91, and police can’t put a finger on the exact reason for the rise.

“That’s been the challenge of law enforcement throughout the country. We don’t know if it’s COVID related and tempers are flaring a lot sooner, or 2020 has been quite the year,” Chief Drake said.

The sharpest increase in homicides came in Hermitage which has already doubled its deaths from the same time last year.

“It’s several different factors that go into that,” Chief Drake explained, “whether it’s gang violence, social media beefs, or having some type of dispute, these individuals tend to meet in these areas and they have these problems.”

They were problems that also materialized in aggravated assaults, from approximately 4,300 this time last year to 5,100 in mid-November 2020. Burglaries and auto thefts were trending above last year’s numbers, too.

“We have police brutality but we have crime in the city and we cannot become insensitive to the crime,” said community activist, Reverend Venita Lewis.

It’s crime the interim police chief hoped to curb with increased diversity within the department and getting more police officers who can build relationships within the communities they serve.

“We’re allocated for 1,511 [officers], we’re 84 down and even if we get to 1,511, for a city our size we’re still 300-400 officers short to do what we need to do,” said Chief Drake. “On the short-term, we want to try to identify the core problem people, remove them, and actually add some sustainability to neighborhoods and just go back in and create better environments.”

As of mid-November, rape cases were down compared to this time last year. Robbery cases were lower, too.

Metro police recently started a program called Do No Harm to the Community, focusing on community engagement to get repeat violent offenders off the street.

To find Metro Police’s weekly CompStat analysis, click here.