“Violent crime is taking a new path,” the Police Executive Research Forum declares in a new report, a “Tale of Two Cities.” After a decade in which crime declined nationally, “violent crime levels have become unstable,” PERF says. In response to increases in many cities, police are making changes in deployment strategies and early indications uggest that the countermeasures are beginning to have an impact on crime, said PERF's latest survey. Aggregate crime levels reported by police in 56 major jurisdicitons show reductions in homicides and violent crimes in the first six months of 2007. Still, 28 jurisdictions reported decreases in homicides, but 22 reported increases, and six reported no change.
PERF says its new report “aims to go beyond the statistics and to explore the causes of crime trends. PERF says there often is a “tale of two cities” within a single city; for example, many jurisdictions are reporting increases in homicide or robbery, but decreases in aggravated assaults. PERF says, “We want to change the way that people view crime. In the past, criminologists waited several years to make conclusions about crime trends. They were cautious about drawing conclusions and waited until they could state with scientific certainty that there was a changing pattern. The problem with that approach is that by the time a crime trend has been identified, the information is so old as to make it useless, because new trends, new crime patterns, and new causes of crime have taken hold.” PERF favors a National Compstat approach–”using accurate, timely information to track crime as it happens, to search for pockets of violence wherever and whenever they occur, and to react quickly. In a sense,we believe that police leaders should act more like public health epidemiologists, who don't wait for a pandemic to overtake the nation, with hundreds or thousands of people dead, before they sound an alarm and start implementing countermeasures.”