The Police Executive Research Forum's analysis of violent crime trends
has already gotten significant newscoverage and may get more tomorrow when they meet in Boston during the afternoon. The theme of their report is that violent crime is rising again. Their first figure (Box 1) summarizes their concern by showing the number of violent crimes, murders, rapes robberies and aggravated assaults over the last 19 years. As soon as one sees their numbers, you know that there is a problem because they are reporting the number of crimes, not the crime rate. Given that population is growing at about 1 percent per year, this is of some importance. If they had used the violent crime rate, it would have been hard to argue that violent crime is increasing because while the rate did go up slightly in 2005, it had fallen EVERY SINGLE PREVIOUS YEAR since 1991. How can they claim that violent crime is out of control when it has fallen for 13 straight years before rising by 1.3 percent for just one year?
For robbery, something that they point to as particularly significant ("Sounding the Alarm on Robbery"), it had fallen for 12 of the previous 13 years and in this one year had risen by 2.9 percent.
In addition, they some how manage to exclude even the absolute number of rapes from their list of violent crimes, possibly because it falls in 2005 from 2004.
Their call for more gun control is not based on any evidence that this will reduce crime.
I agree with them that the "decrease in police department staffing levels" is important, though I don't think that they are overall on point.
Thanks to Rich for sending me the link to the report.
Foor a detailed discussion see this