- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Violent crime nationwide increased by 1.9 percent last year, but comparatively speaking, such crimes are trending downward, the FBI said yesterday.

Among more than 1.4 million violent crimes reported last year, the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program said there were more than 17,000 murders, 92,000 forcible rapes, 447,000 robberies and 860,000 aggravated assaults. The five-year trend, comparing 2006 statistics to those gathered in 2002, showed violent crime fell by 0.4 percent, and the 10-year trend — 2006 compared to 1997 — found a 13.3 percent drop.

Aggravated assault accounted for the majority of violent crimes, 60.7 percent, the FBI said. Robbery accounted for 31.6 percent and forcible rape accounted for 6.5 percent. Homicide, the least-committed violent offense, made up 1.2 percent of violent crimes in 2006, according to the report.

At the same time, property crimes nationwide during 2006 — including burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft — declined by 1.9 percent over 2005 and dropped by 13.6 percent when compared to the FBI’s 1997 numbers. The report said there were 9.98 million reported property crimes in 2006, accounting for $17.6 billion in losses.

Two-thirds of all property crimes were larceny-thefts, the report said.

“No problem can be solved without careful study, and the problem of crime requires accurate statistics in order for it to be measured, analyzed and ultimately decreased in meaningful ways,” FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said, adding that UCR data has often been a key factor in the allocation of law enforcement resources.

Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports the regulation of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol, criticized the record number of marijuana arrests during 2006, saying authorities were “wasting billions of dollars each year on a failed policy.”

“Despite record arrests, marijuana use remains higher than it was 15 years ago, when arrests were less than half the present level,” he said, noting that marijuana arrests last year jumped to 829,627 from 786,545 in 2005.

According to the report:

• In 2006, firearms were used in 67.9 percent of the nation’s murders, 42.2 percent of the robberies and in 21.9 percent of the aggravated assaults. Also, 44.3 percent of the violent crimes and 15.8 percent of the property crimes were cleared by arrest or other means, including the death of the offender and a victim’s refusal to cooperate.

• Of the violent crimes, murder had the highest percentage of offenses cleared at 60.7 percent. Of the property crimes, larceny-theft had the highest percentage of offenses cleared at 17.4 percent.

• In 2006, 78.9 percent of murder victims were male, 50.2 percent were black, 47.1 percent were white, and the remaining victims were from other or undetermined races. In single victim/single offender incidents, 93.8 percent of the victims were slain by adults (persons 18 or older), 93.2 percent of black victims were murdered by black offenders, and 82.9 percent of white victims were murdered by white offenders.

• In homicides where the weapon was known, firearms were used in 73.4 percent of the offenses. In incidents of murder where the relationships of murder victims and offenders were known, 21.6 percent of victims were slain by family members, 23.1 percent were murdered by strangers and 55.3 percent were killed by someone with whom they were acquainted

• Law enforcement reported 617 justifiable homicides in 2006. Of those, law enforcement officers justifiably killed 376 persons and private citizens justifiably killed 241 persons.

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