As 2010 draws to a close, the national murder count seems to be on pace to end the year largely unchanged from last year, reports The Crime Report. As usual, there will be fluctuations from one city to the next, with Phoenix and Cleveland each reporting steep declines, New York and Milwaukee seeing increases and many others staying the same. El Paso, Texas, meanwhile, counted just a handful of homicides this year. The city-to-city variations illustrate “the complexity of murder,” said Eli Silverman, professor emeritus at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Police have learned, he added, that effective prevention hinges on proactive “smart policing,” with deployments based upon data analysis, not merely numbers of cops.
“One misconception I often hear is that homicide is a mystery–that there's no way of explaining it, or explaining its increases and decreases,” said Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “Homicide exhibits patterned regularities, as do other crimes. I'm not suggesting it's easy or a simple matter to prevent or control homicide. But I don't agree with the idea that it's fully mysterious and beyond comprehension, beyond theoretical explanation, beyond the efforts of law enforcement.” Rosenfeld said he expects national homicide figures for 2010 to be about the same as 2009, when U.S. law enforcers tallied 15,241 bodies.