Pittsburgh Bucks National Trend on Violent Crimes; Violent Crime Rose Nationwide but Dropped Substantially in Pittsburgh between 2014 and 2015, According to Crime Data Collected and Released Monday by the FBI. [Derived Headline]

By Bowling, Brian | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 26, 2016 | Go to article overview

Pittsburgh Bucks National Trend on Violent Crimes; Violent Crime Rose Nationwide but Dropped Substantially in Pittsburgh between 2014 and 2015, According to Crime Data Collected and Released Monday by the FBI. [Derived Headline]


Bowling, Brian, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Violent crime rose nationwide but dropped substantially in Pittsburgh between 2014 and 2015, according to crime data collected and released Monday by the FBI.

The nearly 12 percent decrease reported for Pittsburgh was the result of fewer crimes being reported in every category of violent crime, the data show, including a 17.4 percent plunge in the number of murders. Nationally, violent crime increased by nearly 4 percent as a result of increases in every category, especially murders and non-negligent manslaughter.

Mayor Bill Peduto and police Chief Cameron McLay declined comment through spokespeople, though Peduto took to social media to tout the findings.

The head of a citizens group that patrols streets in Pittsburgh's Homewood and East Hills neighborhoods said he was surprised but happy to hear about the decline in violent crime.

"It's still worse than what we want, but it's better than it going up," said George Spencer, president of MAD DADS, a Christian group of volunteers that conducts street patrols in Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills and surrounding areas.

Robert Swartzwelder, president of Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge 1, representing city police officers, said he is concerned that the way the FBI combines crimes into a single, larger category like "violent crime" can hide important trends. For example, he noted nonfatal shootings and assaults with a gun are grouped in the "aggravated assaults" category, which masks the fact that more guns are being used in crimes.

"Gun violence is through the roof," Swartzwelder said.

Pittsburgh police stats comparing the first six months of 2014 and 2015 show that assaults with a gun increased 35 percent to 169 assaults from January to June 2015. Shootings increased to 73, up 12 percent over 2014.

Gun assaults are more dangerous to police and to the public because of the potential for shots to hit bystanders, he said.

"It's not as simplistic as the FBI data says," Swartzwelder said.

The figures released Monday were reported by Pittsburgh police and law enforcement agencies nationwide through the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which compiles data on murders, aggravated assault, car thefts and other crime.

The statistics show an estimated 15,696 murders and non- negligent manslaughters in the United States in 2015, a 10. …

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