Slowly but surely, violent crime is returning to the national agenda, says U.S. News & World Report. The magazine reports an uneven homicide increase last year in the 20 largest cities. The 19 cities with data had 4,152 homicides in 2006 6 percent more than 2005’s 3,919. Phoenix, which could not provide a year-end number, had neared its 2005 total of 238 by the end of November. Philadelphia’s 406 homicides were the most there since 1997. Oakland topped its 2005 tally by more than 50, and Cincinnati’s 85 homicides were unprecedented. Criticizing the lack of an aggressive federal response, Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Form says: “If the pandemic flu were to hit 20 cities in the United States, I don’t think the Centers for Disease Control would say, ‘Well, let’s see how many other cities it hits.’ ”
Experts do not agree on what is happening. Franklin Zimring of the University of California-Berkeley, author of the new book “The Great American Crime Decline,” says, “There are a hundred theories and no confirmations.” Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University cites a diversion of resources from traditional crime fighting to preventing terrorism and a reduction in social services to the poorest neighborhoods. Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis says a lack of economic stability especially affects the urban poor, who are most likely to turn to crime. There is some specualtion that President Bush could make an anticrime effort part of his State of the Union address January 23 or put a new initiative in his proposed budget for fiscal 2008.