New Report Shows Violent Crime Still on the Rise in Some Communities

Article excerpt

A new report from a police research organization concludes that violent crime in cities across the country is taking a new path. Overall, the report suggests that violent crime is decreasing due to police agencies' changes in strategies and community initiatives, with some communities still experiencing increases.

In 2005 and 2006, violent crime levels increased nationwide with some cities experiencing double-digit or triple-digit increases in homicide and other violence. In the first six months of 2007, according to the report released recently by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), violent crime levels have been unstable with nearly half of the jurisdictions studied still reporting increases in violent crime, but with over half of the jurisdictions reporting an overall decrease in homicide and other violent crimes.

The Police Executive Research Forum is a professional organization of police chief executives of city, county and state law enforcement agencies. Established in 1976, PERF conducts police and criminal justice research and provides a variety of technical assistance programs to police agencies throughout the world. For more than two years, PERF has been focusing attention on the levels of violent crime across the United States by conducting surveys of police department crime statistics and hosting summits to discuss survey findings.

PERF's report provides the latest information about violent crime levels in 168 cities, towns and suburbs, as well as an analysis of crime trends in 56 communities that PERF has been tracking since 2005. The report also presents the views of more than 100 police chiefs and sheriffs who attended PERF's fall summit about the causes of violence, the programs and policies departments have undertaken to reduce violence and which programs and policies policing leaders believe are most promising.

Compared with the first six months of 2006, the report shows an overall decrease in the four crime categories for the first six months of 2007 in the 56 communities: 1.63 percent for homicide; 5.40 percent for robbery; 5.27 percent for aggravated assaults; and 8.10 percent for aggravated assault with a firearm.

While encouraging, the report cautions that these overall decreases mask the fact that 22 communities surveyed continue to experience an increase in violent crime.

According to the report, the most highly ranked contributing factor to violent crime, cited by more than three-fourths of all responding agencies, was gangs, followed by juvenile crime. Nearly two-thirds of those who responded cited impulsive violence and "disrespect" issues, as well as unemployment and poverty, and ex-offender reentry issues. …