A new Police Executive Research Forum report suggests that a two-year surge in violent crime has slowed significantly, with many large cities reporting dramatic drops in murders and other violent offenses for the first six months of 2007, reports the Washington Post. At the same time, other large jurisdictions have continued to grapple with soaring numbers of homicides or other major crimes. “The picture is more complicated and mixed,” said Chuck Wexler, PERF executive director. “It has slowed in some places but is continuing in others. There is a volatility out there that is pretty strong.”
The report, scheduled to be publicly released next week, analyzes several years of statistics for homicide, robberies, and aggravated assaults from 56 of the nation’s largest jurisdictions. It also includes crime data from more than 100 other cities, suburbs, and towns. For the main jurisdictions, the report shows an overall decline in the number of homicides, robberies and aggravated assaults in the first six months of the year, when compared with the first half of 2006. The downward trend is good news for the Bush administration, which has come under sharp criticism from many Democrats and police chiefs for focusing less resources on local violent-crime problems. FBI reports show that violent crime increased for two years in a row, in 2005 and 2006, marking the first sustained rise in more than a decade. One notable success story is Sacramento, where murders dropped from 35 in the first half of 2006 to 22 in the first six months of this year. The city saw drops in other violent-crime categories as well. A police spokesman said part of the decrease can be attributed to a focus on juvenile-behavior problems, including school truancy.