In 2011, the United States saw fewer violent crimes than it did the year before, which marks the fourth consecutive year that criminal charges were targeted at fewer individuals than the prior year.
According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), violent crime fell by more than 6 percent across the country in the first half of 2011.
The statistics were compiled by collecting data from more than 12,500 law enforcement agencies across the country. The statistics also showed that the murder rate dropped by 5.7 percent, rapes fell by 5.1 percent, and robberies dropped by 7.7 percent.
This news comes as a bit of a surprise to some analysts who predicted that the struggling economy would force more Americans into committing crimes in order to make ends meet. This prediction, however, has not come to pass.
Experts offer a few different reasons for the remarkable drop in violent crime. First, some observers believe that new police methods, especially the use of more officers in “hot zones” that experience more crime, have prevented a significant number of violent crimes.
In addition, criminal law experts believe that the proliferation of new crime-detecting technology, such as street cameras, have also played a major role in dissuading potential criminals.
Finally, sources indicate that the nation as a whole is growing older, which leaves fewer young people to commit crimes that are historically committed by younger populations.
Of course, some civil rights advocates claim that these trends aren’t all positive. The of use of street cameras, for example, has raised concerns about citizens’ privacy, and the deployment of more police officers in so-called dangerous areas sometimes causes tensions in neighborhoods.
In addition, some people claim that police departments are massaging their crime numbers in order to appease city officials who are concerned about reducing crime rates by any means necessary.
Despite these criticisms, it cannot be denied that the crime rate is dropping, although the news is not all good.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that, despite the drop in crime, more police officers were killed while on duty in 2011 than the year before. Disturbingly, the number of police killings rose by 14 percent in the last six months.
Sources also suggest that 2011 marked the first time in several years that more police were killed in shootings than in traffic accidents. Despite this worrisome statistic, though, the overall rate of police deaths has been dropping consistently for a decade.
Of course, while this information is interesting, most Americans would not cite violent crime as their primary concern headed into the election season. Polls show that most people cite employment or the economy as their number one concern.
Nevertheless, the continued trend of shrinking violent crime comes as welcome news for most Americans.