Atlanta has seen 131 homicides this year, a 30% increase from the 99 homicides in 2019.
"We are seeing a significant increase not only in Atlanta but across the country," said Atlanta Police Deputy Chief Timothy Peek.
Peek noted additional stresses of the pandemic, unemployment, and evictions impacting many families and said police would be working closely with community partners to try and deescalate rising tensions on the streets.
The department forecasts a total of 145 homicides for the year, which would be the highest since the record of 241 set in 1990.
"I'm certainly shocked even at some of the cases that we've had where police officers were present and people still chose to pull weapons and start shooting," said Peek.
The area with the largest surge in homicides has been downtown Atlanta and to the south of Interstate 20, where there has been a 317% increase over 2019.
In addition to pandemic stresses, violent protests gripped Atlanta in the wake of a police shooting in June, resulting in the resignation of Police Chief Erika Shields and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp calling in the National Guard.
Many officers were frustrated by the district attorney's decision to charge the officer involved in that June shooting, and have resigned or refused to adequately police areas where they might be put in a similar situation.
Despite this, Peek says APD is working to increase patrols in the worst-hit areas, be more intentional in community policing, and cooperate with courts to ensure violent offenders remain behind bars.