The number of murders dropped by nearly 6 percent in the first half of 2004, an indication that a four-year climb may be ending, the FBI reported Monday. Preliminary figures provided to the FBI by more than 10,700 state and local police agencies show that overall violent crime was down 2 percent from January to June of this year compared with the first six months of 2003, reports the Associated Press. Violent crime includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Among those crimes, the number of murders dropped the most at 5.7 percent, followed by robbery (5 percent) and aggravated assault (1 percent). Rapes increased 1.4 percent nationwide, though the increase was greater — 6.5 percent — in cities with populations of 1 million or more, according to the FBI.The national crime rate has dropped to record lows in recent years but the number of homicides has been rising steadily. After reaching a low point in 1999 of about 15,500 homicides, the number crept up to more than 16,500 in 2003, or almost six murders for every 100,000 U.S. residents.