A month after the FBI reported that U.S. violent crime reports increased again last year, a survey of 163 U.S. cities during the first half of 2007 offers a more complicated picture of crime’s re-emergence, says USA Today. A majority of cities continue to report increases or no changes in homicides and robbery; nearly as many communities are showing substantial declines in assaults and assaults with firearms, says the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
The decline in assaults, generally regarded as precursors to more serious violence, offers some hope that recent increases in homicides could be short-lived, says Chuck Wexler, PERF executive director. In some cities, including Detroit, Houston, and Minneapolis, the survey shows dramatic reversals in both homicides and robberies during the first six months of 2007, compared with the same period in 2006. At least 100 cities listed the same six factors as contributing to local violence. Ranked from most to least significant, they were: gangs, juvenile crime, impulsive violence, poverty and unemployment, former offenders returning to their communities from prison, and cocaine. The “increased availability of guns” was listed by 91 departments as having contributed to local violent crime.