Gun violence is up across the country. It's changing mayoral politics.

Several key crimes have increased in the United States over the past year. Christopher Herrmann, an assistant professor in criminal justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, stated that homicides, shootings, and vehicle thefts began rising last summer. They have never fallen.Herrmann stated that a lot of it has to do with pandemics such as unemployment, financial crisis, food shortages, housing inequalities, and health care issues. All of this leads to increased conflict and mental stressors.Herrmann stated that while these types of crimes make up a small percentage of total crime and are "actually normal" or down, Herrmann noted that the nation is facing a "significant increase in homicides, shootings, and other forms of criminal activity.Moore in Atlanta made combating out of control crime, gun violence to rapes, a central part of her platform when it was time to challenge Mayor Keisha Bottoms back January.Lance Bottoms, a rising star in Democratic politics, said in May that she would not seek reelection. Moore still positions herself as someone who is tough on crime, but prepared to address its root causes by growing the department ranks and bolstering social service.Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms spoke at the Atlanta Press Club on June 18, 2019 about improving the reputation of the city. Andrea Smith/AP PhotoMoore stated that you can't allow crime to spiral out of control and then wait for your programs or activities to assist people. Both must be done simultaneously.Reed, who was previously mayor for two terms, barnstormed into last month's race with a similar message to Moore and more name recognition, propelling himself to the front despite federal investigations from his two-term tenure. Both Moore and he are both Democrats, while Black and Moore are both in the lead in opinion polls.The crime rate is higher now than it was when Reed was president, from 2010 to 2018. He thinks so. It's now all about full shootouts in broad daylight, and car thefts. He is promoting smart-on crime tactics that are similar to those he used in the past when crime rates declined.I will build a larger police force. Reed stated that we will spend more money on training than ever before, but acknowledged that it will require balance. This is not as tough as it sounds. It is a range of solutions that, although it might not sound as sexy like defunding the police, is a global approach that touches on multiple aspects.Atlanta, as well as other cities, is facing similar dynamics. There are prominent mayoral candidates that say more cops are not the solution and that digging into the root causes of violence is the only way to eradicate it.Atlanta's generational poverty is what you see, Antonio Brown, another Democratic mayoral candidate, stated. These people need to have opportunities.Brown claimed that his car was taken by a group o children in broad daylight last month. Brown is using the incident as a reason to call for more community police and greater investments in the city's poorer areas.Brown stated that people who think that militarizing Atlanta is the answer are far removed from the truth of what really is happening.Sheila Nezhad, Kate Knuth and other challengers to incumbent Mayor Jacob Frey believe they can defeat him in Minneapolis. They support a plan to dismantle the city's police department that is currently under federal investigation for possible patterns of excessive force. The department would be replaced with a Department of Public Safety.Nezhad stated that the new department would bring together the city's emergency response and violence prevention functions. This would allow us to drastically reduce the need for law enforcement officers and, perhaps, eliminate them altogether in the future. Nezhad wants the city's violence prevention to be addressed by developing alternative solutions like global mental health response teams and investing in violence prevention.In the year that Floyd was killed, more than 200 officers have left Minneapolis Police Department. Frey, who is a Democrat like Nezhad or Knuth, sees this as a negative and could hinder the city's ability to respond in a timely manner to domestic violence, shootings, and 911 calls.Stephen Maturen/Getty ImagesFrey insists on a "both-and" approach to public safety. This means that the department must make structural changes, such as overhauling its force policy and sending more social workers and mental health professionals on calls. While maintaining the number of cops, this will require deep structural changes.Frey stated that based on the experiences, the idea of dismantling, abolishing, or further getting rid police officers, who are already at the lowest per capita number of any city in the nation, isn't smart.The rise in violent crime has not been as dramatic in Boston this year as it was in other large cities. The city has not been immune to shootings this year, forcing the five main candidates to manage public safety concerns alongside calls to reform a department plagued by scandals (overtime fraud to a top cop recently fired after allegations of domestic abuse dating back decades)Andrea Campbell, chair of the Boston City Councils Public Safety Committee, demanded that our department be restructured to ensure every neighborhood has enough officers to respond to any crime.Campbell, who is the most vocal advocate for reform in policing, said that officers alone are not capable of eliminating violence incidents in communities. He also stressed that it was important to address the root causes of violence by investing in people's mental health, moving them out of poverty and addressing trauma.Campbell stated that the Boston Police Department has sufficient officers to fulfill its public safety responsibility. Kim Janey, Acting Mayor, is running for a full term. She recently secured funding to add 30 officers to the budget of the police department budget in an effort reduce overtime costs. Two of their rivals want hundreds more officers to do the same and boost community policing.Kim Janey, Boston Acting Mayor, addresses a crowd in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood before the start the Roxbury Unity Parade on Sunday, July 18, 2021. | Steven Senne/AP PhotoWhile the population of Boston has grown dramatically in the past decade, our police force actually has decreased. The department has been suffering from insufficient resources, lack of officers, resulting in longer response times, and decreased coverage in our neighborhoods. Annissa EssaibiGeorge, a City Councilor, was one of two candidates calling to increase the number of cops. She is also the candidate considered the most pro-public safety. Both of us must make reforms to ensure our communities are safe. These are not mutually exclusive, and Boston must do both.Boston might be a little outlier of the nation's major cities, however, the messages from the mayoral candidates mirror those coming from New York City, Seattle, Atlanta and Minneapolis, as well as from Frey.Frey was booed from a rally days after Floyd's murder for refusing to heed similar calls by demonstrators to abolish the citys Police Department. Jacob, Jeers of Shame and Go Home, followed Frey as he walked through the crowds of demonstrators in his self-described Walk of Shame.Frey stated that if I were concerned about national narratives I would probably have changed my position.Frey is not satisfied with his views on police work, but it's encouraging to see them gain momentum amid the national rise in gun violence.Frey stated that accountability is essential.He said that the idea of having to choose between policing reform or combating crime was a false choice. It's time to stop swinging violently between these extremes.This report was contributed by David Giambusso