For the second year in a row, crime dipped across the country during the first six months of the year, according to FBI 2008 crime statistics released this morning.
The FBI's preliminary statistics show that from January to June 2008, violent crime fell 3.5 percent, with some categories of crime seeing significant overall dips as well. Murder declined 4.4 percent, assaults decreased 4.1 percent, rape dropped 3.3 percent and robberies fell 2.2 percent, compared with the same period in 2007.
Law enforcement agencies across the country submit their statistics to the FBI as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program; the Bureau then standardizes and analyzes the data before releasing the nationwide findings.
In addition to drops in violent crime, property crimes fell 2.5 percent from January to June 2008.
The Midwest region saw the biggest drop in violent crime, with a 6 percent overall drop. Cities in that region with populations between 250,000 and 499,999 inhabitants saw the greatest decline in violent crime, with the rate dropping 5.2 percent. All three other areas of the country saw drops as well, from 5 percent in the West, to 2.9 percent in the Northeast and 1.5 percent in the South.
The full statistics for 2008 will be released this fall.
Even with the overall decrease, however, there were some notable spikes in crime.
Northeastern cities saw a slight bump -- 0.6 percent -- in reported rapes, while cities nationwide with populations greater than 1 million people saw a 3.4 percent increase in forcible rapes.
Mid- and small-size cities across the country saw a rise in murder and manslaughter, with the FBI data showing that cities with populations of 50,000 to 100,000 experienced 3.3 percent more murders compared with the same period in 2007, and small cities with fewer than 10,000 people saw a 9.8 percent increase.
The drop in the overall murder rate can be attributed to significant decreases in some major cities that had seen spikes in killings in previous years. According to police data, cities such as Baltimore had seen significant drops in homicides: more than 15 percent, from 282 murders in 2007 to 234 murders in 2008.
In Philadelphia, a city where violence had been on the rise in recent years, the police reported 332 homicides in 2008, a drop from 392 in 2007.