Homicides in 56 major U.S. cities were down 10.5% in the first six months of 2008, but about one third of a larger sample of 200 jurisidctions reported rising murder numbers, the Police Executive Research Forum said yesterday at a national violent crime summit in Washington, D.C. PERF said that of the 200 jurisdictions, 53 percent said the robbery total was down but 43 percent reported it rising. Burglaries produced similar results, with 53 percent reporting a decrease and 47 percent an increase. PERF director Chuck Wexler said the findings were reminiscent of the organization’s previous “tale of two cities” reports in which localities reported varying crime trends.
Police Chief William Bratton of Los Angeles, where crime is down, said he is concerned that crime will rise in many places because of today’s poor “economic climate.” It was a worry expressed by many attendees, who noted that policing resources have shrunk with government cutbacks. The crime decreases of the 1990s “are gone,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. “Things may very well get worse before they get better.” Several cities reported improvements, however. Edward Flynn, new police chief in Milwaukee, said that instituting a “coherent crime strategy” has helped in his city; Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak touted a “public health approach” to juvenile crime in his city as successful so far. One key is police officers’ taking curfew and truancy violators to a center when their parents are unavailable.