Smaller Cities Playing Catch-Up On Dealing With Murders


Last year’s jump in murders – particularly in smaller cities – has some experts worried, says the Christian Science Monitor. Murders rose 4.8 percent, the largest percentage increase in 15 years, said the preliminary FBI numbers out Monday. Murders were up 76 percent in Birmingham, Al., 40 percent in Milwaukee, and 42 percent in Kansas City, Mo., and 12.5 percent on average for all cities between 100,000 and 250,000 people. “This looks like something real,” says David Kennedy of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “It’s usually very unwise to read too much into the year-to-year movement. But within the general national decline [in violent crime] there has been a general trend in the smaller jurisdictions and in rural areas that has been on the increase.”

Experts cite a wide range of possible causes for the jump, including budget cuts to police and social services, the proliferation of guns, diversion of police to the war on terror, growing meth use (perhaps one reason for the larger increase in the Midwest), and the spread of violent ideas through media and music. “The smaller cities felt immune from what they regarded as big-city problems and never put in place these kind of [anticrime] programs,” says Jack Levin, head of the Brudnick Center on Violence at Northeastern University. “They’re playing catch-up now.”


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