Although violent crime has increased three out of the last four years, total crime reported in Nebraska declined for the sixth straight year in 2007, said a Nebraska Crime Commission report quoted by the Omaha World-Herald. Sparked by a jump in homicides and aggravated assault, violent crime increased for the second year in a row, although the total figure of 5,264 is only about 1 percent higher than the 5,191 violent crimes reported in 2001.
Criminal justice experts could not explain a startling increase in the number of aggravated assaults. There were 3,583 assaults reported in 2007, an 11 percent increase from the 3,231 reported in 2006. Some speculated that crackdowns on juvenile crime in the wake of shootings last summer in Omaha may have spurred more assault reports. Lincoln Police Chief Tom Casady and Candice Batton of the school of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Nebraska-Omaha said the latest statistics should be viewed in the context of a long-term trend of declining crime nationally. “One of the reasons you’ll see increases now is because the numbers have been so low,” Batton said.