Violent Crime Continues Increase Nationwide for Second Consecutive Year
By Jocelyn Bogen
October 8, 2007
Cities are making a difference, but violent crime continues to increase nationwide for the second consecutive year.
That was the message at the September 26th National Violent Crime Summit in Schaumburg (IL), where 170 police chief, mayors, and government officials discussed and explained local crime trends. The Summit was sponsored by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a national membership organization of progressive police executives from the largest city, county and state law enforcement agencies.
According to the 2006 FBI’s annual crime report murder rose by nearly two percent last year and robbery increased seven percent. “We now have two years worth of data which shows a significant departure from the past 10 years,” PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler said.
Some of the strategies used to tackle violent crime are the use of hot spots, community policing initiatives, and cooperation with other departments. In Minneapolis, the police department created violent offender and violent juvenile offender task forces. They are also incorporating a public health approach focusing on three areas: 1) Prevention through Connection; 2) Aggressive Intervention, which coordinates schools, parks and emergency rooms; and, 3) Renewal. “We haven’t solved the issue of disconnected youth. Truancy and curfew enforcement are being aggressively pushed which has helped with gun seizures and warrants. However, we need our high school graduation rates to improve to get on the track for long term prevention,” added Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.
In Boston, the police recently introduced an anonymous text messaging tip line which allows witnesses to communicate with police. To date it has resulted in over 1400 tips.
Milwaukee Police Chief Nannette Hegerty outlined how her department has used neighborhood safety initiatives to reduce violent offenses. “To fight the increase in violence during the summer months the department created a completely mobile force made up of 100 officers. The closely supervised unit conducted intelligence led proactive police work and the efforts have been successful,” said Hegerty.
Based on data collected by PERF, cities are also experiencing increases in robberies, due to the proliferation of electronic devices, specifically Ipod/mp3 players, digital cameras and cell phones. A disturbing trend officials noted is that the juveniles who commit robberies are more likely to shoot their victims even when the victims do no resist. PERF President Miami Police Chief John Timoney added, “Juvenile offenders and suspects are starting to mirror one another, unfortunately some of the victims will be tomorrows shooters.”
Another problem cities are dealing with is the intentional robberies of people who use check cashing places and carry large amounts of cash. Rybak added one of the ways his city is combating this problem is with financial literacy campaigns to educate vulnerable populations who are unfamiliar with or have limited trust of financial institutions.