According to the Brennan Center for Justice, crime statistics for the 30 largest cities in America shows that there was a 13 percent increase in murders last year. However, analysts cited in the Brennan report believe it is premature to determine whether this is an indication of a broader trend. The report notes that the murder rate is a bit lower than what it registered for 2012.
 
The study shows that three cities (Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.) account for more than half (244) of the national increase in murders. While this is a concern in some cities, suggested the report, there is “little evidence of a national coming wave in violent crime.” The increase appear to be localized, said the report, and not a national pandemic of crime. All three of the above-mentioned cities, said the report, “seem to have falling populations, higher poverty rates, and higher unemployment than the national average. This implies that economic deterioration of these cities could be a contributor to murder increases.”
 
In Baltimore, murders are up by 63 percent, and in Chicago they are up by (13 percent), while in Washington DC they are up by 51 percent. Reports of violent crime in general ratcheted upward by 3.1 percent in 2015, largely due to increases in Los Angeles (up 25 percent), Baltimore (19 percent), and Charlotte (16 percent).
 
Even though crime rates mostly remain lower than 10 or 20 years ago, the murder rates in Chicago and Washington have reverted to the levels they were at in 2012 and 2007, respectively. Baltimore's murder rate is now as high as it was in the early 1990s. Chicago shows signs of getting even worse this year. During the first three months of 2016, murders increased 72 percent compared to the same period in 2015, while shootings were up 88 percent, according to police department statistics.
 
In coverage on ABC3340, Professor Peter Moskos of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the double-digit crime increase is significant. Historically, it was in 1971 that the murder rate rose by more than 10 percent. "Even if it weren't part of a greater trend, we're still talking 1,400 or so more dead people," he said.
 
Preliminary statistics released in January by the FBI showed that murders increased by 6.2 percent, while there was a 2.3 increase in aggravated assaults, and a 0.3 increase in robbery. The FBI reported that the largest increase in reports of violent crime in the first six months of 2015 was seen in cities with populations between 250,000 and 499,999. Violent crime dropped 3.3 percent in nonmetropolitan counties, but it was up slightly in metropolitan counties. Violent crime was down in the northeast but rose in the rest of the country.
 
Over the last year, some in the law enforcement community have cited concerns over being accused of unfair policing or racism as being a reason of less aggressive police action. "Given less proactive policing that we've seen in many cities, it would follow that less crimes are reported," Moskos said.
 
Tensions between the police and some members of the communities in Baltimore and Chicago have been heightened over accusations of overreaction by police and undue shootings of civilians. According to Moskos, who is in contact with police officers, cops say that law enforcement has changed and “they're afraid to do what they see as their jobs."
 
In Chicago, for instance, Police chief Garry McCarthy is calling for stricter gun controls as a response to violent crime.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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