- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2007

Violent crime in the U.S. increased by 1.3 percent last year, bolstered by a surge in killings in big cities, robberies nationwide, increased gang and youth violence, a spike in gun crimes and fewer police to respond, the FBI said yesterday.

The reported 1.3 percent jump in violent crimes follows a 2.5 percent increase in 2005 — the first rise in four years and the biggest percentage gain in 15 years despite efforts by the Justice Department and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to target violent crime as a top priority.

In the District, the FBI said, homicides dropped from 195 to 169; forcible rapes increased from 165 to 194; robberies increased from 3,502 to 3,604; and aggravated assaults jumped from 3,854 to 4,451.

In Baltimore, homicides rose from 269 to 276; rapes dropped from 162 to 138; robberies increased from 3,910 to 4,229; and assaults dropped from 6,907 to 6,173.

In Alexandria, homicides rose from four to seven; rapes jumped from 22 to 27; robberies climbed from 199 to 206; and assaults dropped from 242 to 208.

The statistics, which were collected from more than 11,700 law-enforcement agencies nationwide, showed that the homicide rate is up 0.3 percent overall, but that the number of offenses increased the most — 6.7 percent — in cities with 1 million or more residents and decreased the most — 11.9 percent — in nonmetropolitan counties.

The cities recording the largest increases in the number of homicides were Orlando and Miami, Fla.; Oakland and San Diego, Calif.; Phoenix; Corpus Christi, Texas; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Reno, Nev.; and Little Rock, Ark.

The FBI report also found that incidents of forcible rape decreased nearly 2 percent overall; robberies rose 6 percent, the highest increase in any violent or property crime category; and aggravated assaults declined by 0.7 percent, the largest cities experiencing the greatest declines.

The report also showed that violent crime rose in every region of the country except for the Northeast, while Western states recorded the largest jump in violent crime.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and drugs, renewed his call yesterday to fully fund the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which provides grants to hire and train police officers, and acquire cutting-edge crime-fighting technologies.

“This report should be a wake-up call to the Bush administration …,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s no coincidence that it’s happened during the same time period which the administration has all but eliminated the COPS program, slashed state and local law-enforcement programs by billions and cut completely the COPS hiring program.”

The FBI numbers released yesterday represent the first increase in the crime rate for two consecutive years since the passage of the 1994 Biden crime bill.

Among reported incidents of property crime, the FBI report said, burglaries increased 0.2 percent; incidents of larceny-theft were down 3.5 percent overall; and motor-vehicle thefts were down 4.7 percent.

Incidents of arson were up 1.8 percent in all but one population group, although arsons are tracked separately from other property-crime offenses.

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