Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Crime & The 2007 UCR

The FBI released its annual Uniform Crime Report for 2007 yesterday and the news seems somewhat mixed. Nationally, violent crime is down slightly, but some jurisdictions, including Atlanta and the Metro area, saw noticeable increases. Athens-Clarke County received mixed reviews as well.

Violent crime in the United States fell slightly last year, reversing the upward swing of the previous two years, according to statistics released by the FBI yesterday.

The bureau's Crime in the United States report showed a decline in crimes in almost every category. About 1.4 million violent crimes occurred in 2007, down 0.7 percent from 2006.

"The 2007 UCR shows that the rate of violent crime is near a 30-year low," Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, said of the Uniform Crime Report in a prepared statement. "This is a credit to our state and local law enforcement partners, who are working in coordination with federal law enforcement to break up violent gangs and to take drug dealers and gun criminals off the streets."
But not all jurisdictions enjoyed similar reassurances.
Violent crime increased in Atlanta last year, with the city recording its highest number of murders in four years, according to statistics released Monday by the FBI.

The numbers of violent crimes and murders also rose in most of metro Atlanta’s largest counties.

The new statistics show property crimes in Atlanta rose 12.4 percent and violent crimes went up 7 percent in Atlanta in 2007, while national statistics showed slight dips in both categories.

Elsewhere:

• In Clayton County, there were 1,366 violent crimes investigated by the county’s police department in 2007, an increase of 210 from the previous year. The county recorded 35 murders, up from 34 in 2006, and 649 aggravated assaults, an increase of 141.

Cobb County police reported 24 murders and 1,402 violent crimes in 2007, comparted (sic) to 22 and 1,393 in 2006, while there was a decrease in aggravated assaults, from 717 in 2006 to 657 last year.

• The number of murders investigated by DeKalb County police jumped from 85 in 2006 to 108 in 2007, according to the FBI. Violent crimes in the county climbed from 4,454 to 4,644, while aggravated assaults dropped from 2,023 in 2006 to 1,563 in 2007.

Gwinnett County’s statistics showed a slight increase in murders, from 35 in 2006 to 36 in 2006, while violent crimes were up from 1,890 in 2006 to 1,945 in 2007 and aggravated assaults increased from 708 in 2006 to 725 last year.

Here in Athens, the numbers are a mixed bag. Comparing the FBI's 2007 Athens-Clarke numbers with 2006 statistics, it seems reported violent crime, overall, increased from 373 incidences to 435 incidences (+16%), while property crime dropped from 5,634 to 5,493 (-2%). Rape was down significantly (from 53 reported incidences to 38), yet Aggravated Assault jumped from 190 reports in 2006 to 248 reports in 2007.

Similarly, larceny/theft reports dropped (from 4,154 to 3,836), while reported Burglaries increased from 1,116 to 1,306 in 2007. We also showed a large increase in reported arson, from 21 incidences in '06 to 36 in '07.

With crime fluctuating so much, both within jurisdictions and throughout regions of the country, we don't seem to be in the middle of any kind of noticeable crime trend (upwards or downwards) at the moment.

As always, use caution when comparing and/or ranking jurisdictions and their crime statistics if you surf the FBI site. As they make plainly clear, these statistics are not meant for cursory or simplistic assesments about various communities and their reported levels of crime.

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