FBI: Violent Upswing Continues in U.S.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2006 â€” Murders, robberies and other violent crimes reported in the United States jumped 3.7 percent in the first half of the year, continuing a troubling upswing that began in 2005, the FBI said today.
The FBI said law enforcement agencies reported that robberies soared by a startling 9.7 percent, followed by an increase in murders of 1.4 percent and aggravated assaults of 1.2 percent.
Last year, the number of violent crimes increased by 2.5 percent, the largest percentage gain in 15 years. The increase came after years of declines.
The U.S. Justice Department then announced that it would conduct a study of why the crime numbers are increasing, a study that has yet to be completed.
Department officials have cited as possible reasons a surge in gang-related violence, spreading use of the illegal drug methamphetamine and demographics, with children of the baby-boom generation entering the years when individuals are most likely to commit crimes.
The officials have rejected any suggestion that an emphasis on preventing terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks and funding cuts for federal programs to put more police officers on the street were to blame for the increase.
The FBI crime report, which comes out every six months, gave the latest statistics, but provided no explanation for the increase.
It said reported murders were up 3.1 percent in metropolitan areas, but the largest increase â€” 8.4 percent â€” occurred in cities with population of between 500,000 and 1 million.
Robberies were up in all population areas â€” rural, small cities, medium sized-cities and big cities. The largest increase â€” 12.8 percent â€” occurred in cities with populations of only 10,000 to 25,000.
While violent crimes increased, so-called property crimes went down by 2.6 percent, mainly reflecting a decline in motor vehicle theft of 2.3 percent. But burglaries showed an increase of 1.2 percent and arsons also went up by 6.8 percent nationwide.