The U.S. Justice Department should do more to analyze why violent crime is rising in some localities and to advise those places how to combat it, experts told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. Even though crime has stabilized or decreased in many areas, it is increasing in others. “We should not be complacent, for one minute, about the current rates of violence,” said Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Criminologist Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University said the Justice Department “could initiate a major program to analyze the approaches that have worked in a variety of places” and have teams “travel to cities experiencing a spurt in violence and help them organize an appropriate response.” Travis cited a proposal for a “National Safety Network” that could cut violence and drug markets, reduce incarceration and promote police-minority relations.
Washington does not have a good picture of why crime is on the increase in some cities and not in others, Travis said. He noted that the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey does not have the capacity to report on localities “and is always struggling for adequate appropriations from Congress.” Others who testified were Providence, R.I., Police Chief Dean Esserman, criminologist George Kelling of Rutgers-Newark University and Reverend James Summey of English Road Baptist Church in High Point, N.C., site of a successful police-community antidrug program. A webcast and copies of testimony is available on the committee’s Web site.