The drop in crime over the last decade helped spark an urban revival that attracted thousands of residents and billions of dollars of investment to many cities. Now, says USA Today, city leaders across the nation are fearful that crime will kill the renaissance. More than $1 billion has been invested in the commercial heart of Louisville this decade. Rising crime “has the potential of being damaging,” says Jerry Abramson, mayor of Louisville from 1985 to 1998 and again since 2003. “We all live day by day in terms of concern of some horrific thing happening in our central business district that would set us back.”
Mayors and police chiefs regularly assure the public that violent crimes still are confined mostly to poorer drug- and gang-infested areas, but they are sounding alarms. One of the first sessions at the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting that began yesterday in Washington discussed initiatives to fight rising crime. Mayors are calling for a federal-local partnership to stem double-digit increases in murders, assaults and robberies in some cities. The National League of Cities has put the surge in violent crime on its legislative agenda, calling it one of the major challenges affecting quality of life. Mayors and police chiefs from about 55 cities who met last year cited many factors pushing up crime rates: gangs, drugs, truancy, a growing culture of violence among youths, a profusion of illegal guns, unemployment, and more than 600,000 ex-offenders finishing prison terms and returning to the streets every year.