KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County’s District Attorney General is calling 2021 “challenging in many ways.”

Last week, Charme Allen released her 2021 Year in Review. It details crime and trial case data, but it also gives us a legal-system view of what so many of us have felt in our own lives: the fallout from a tough year.

“In 2021, we had 54 homicides. The year before that, we had had 45. So that was a significant increase in homicides county-wide,” Allen said. “With our overdose deaths, we hit an all-time high. We had 498 suspected overdose deaths, so almost 500. Prior to the pandemic, we had been down in the 350 range.”

Allen thinks the pandemic factors in. She pointed to a nationwide trend and says the numbers aren’t just specific to Knox County.

“I think that probably that’s partly attributable to the isolation and the stress, the pressure that people were under during that time,” said Allen.

We asked Allen what she had her office doing now to make sure the community doesn’t see a repeat of the 2021 data.

“We have an overdose fatality review team. That is new that we started last year, and we partner with preventative agencies.”

“A lot of times we find that the people that are suffering from drug addiction also are suffering from mental health issues. Those two things go hand in hand quite often,” Allen said. “So right now in 2022, we are working on establishing a new mental health court this year, so hopefully by having more mental health courts, recovery courts, more alternatives like that, we will be able to help people steer away from the drugs and hopefully the overdose deaths.”

The 2021 Year in Review report can be viewed on the DA’s Office website.