There were 21 homicides in Des Moines in 2015. This is nearly double the number of homicides from 2014, which saw 11.
The last time the city saw at least 20 homicides in a single year was in 1995. Back then gang activity was a major factor, but in 2015 that's not the case and the Des Moines Police Department says it's unclear why the number of homicides was higher in 2015.
"We look to try to explain some of these things that don't have obvious indicators that we're used to. Like more people in a smaller space? Or is there a new drug on the street that's making people act crazy, like when crack was first introduced into the community," says Sergeant Paul Parizek. "We aren't seeing those traditional instigators."
He adds one thing the majority of Des Moines’s homicides have in common is the victim and alleged killer knew each other.
"Unless you're standing in somebody's living room sometimes, there's nothing we can do to stop some of this," he says.
Parizek notes a number of the deaths were multiple homicides, which contributes to the overall number. He adds 20 of the 21 cases are closed, and two of the homicides are officer-involved shootings.