The murder total in 29 large U.S. cities rose during the first six months of the year, says the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Wall Street Journal reports. Homicides jumped 15 percent in the 51 large cities that submitted crime data, compared with the same year-ago period. More than half that increase was driven by spikes in two cities: Chicago, which has struggled with rising gang violence, and Orlando, where Omar Mateen fatally shot 49 people at a nightclub. A continuing increase in some cities worries officials who had been hoping last year’s surge was an aberration in the decades-long decline in the murder rate. After peaking in the early 1990s, rates of reported violent crime have been at their lowest levels in four decades, according to FBI data.
Donald Trump seized on the murder rise in his speech at last week’s Republican convention, saying that “decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement.” Darrel Stephens, a former police chief who directs the chiefs group, said it’s still too early to say if the numbers signal real change. “It’s going to take a bit more to say this trend of 20 years is being reversed,” he said, adding that there may be a rise in a few cities, “but not on a national basis.” Homicides in the first six months declined in 22 cities, including some that saw big jumps in 2015, such as Milwaukee, where killings dropped 26 percent.