New FBI Data Shows That Violent Crime Rose 4 Percent, Murders Rose 11 Percent in 2015

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Newly released FBI data show that violent crime increased by nearly 4 percent last year, with murders rising nearly 11 percent, but crime researchers said homicides and other violence still remain at low rates compared with a crime wave from 20 years ago.

Seven cities are largely responsible for the increase in murders last year — but that pattern has not held steady into 2016, as homicides in some of those places, including Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have dropped. The other cities that contributed to the rise in 2015 include: Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Kansas City. The FBI says firearms were used in more than 70 percent of the murders last year.

John Pfaff, a law professor at Fordham University who closely follows crime, said on Twitter, “The number of rapes is less than in 2009, the number of robberies less than in … 2013, and assaults less than in 2010. Still quite safe.”

But for the Justice Department, the rise in homicides and some other violent crime compared with 2014 is getting plenty of attention.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, speaking in Arkansas on Monday at a meeting on targeting trouble in urban centers, said violence “tears at the fabric of our common life.” She added that any such increase “is of the deepest concern … to the entire Department of Justice.” Federal authorities blasted out a series of news releases announcing grant awards to communities to enhance the sharing of information about illegally purchased weapons and other crime-fighting measures.

The issue of law and order has been a persistent theme in this year’s presidential race, as Republican candidate Donald Trump has urged the need to restore order to U.S. cities, and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, has emphasized the need for partnerships between law enforcement and communities of color. The new FBI crime data could become a topic during their first presidential debate Monday night in New York.

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SOURCE: NPR, Carrie Johnson