Murder, Robbery Rates Up in Big Cities

Violent crime in the United States might be up a mere 1.3 percent, according to the FBI's preliminary report on 2006 crime statistics, but peeling back the layers reveals some disturbing trends.

The murder rate rose only 0.3 percent nationwide, but the story changes in major cities -- those with 1 million or more residents.

In those large cities, murder is up 6.7 percent. Robbery is also up 6 percent.

Watch Pierre Thomas' report today on "World News With Charles Gibson"

For police in Newark, N.J., the problem is more than just rising numbers. The police are out in force, engaged in a struggle against the violence that threatens to define the New York-area city with a population of about 280,000.

At one point in the spring, homicide in Newark was up a staggering 18 percent, with shootings climbing a stunning 30 percent.

"Day I'm sworn in, two people [were] murdered," Mayor Cory Booker said.

Since he took office in July, Booker has been trying to make good on his campaign platform of stopping the carnage.

"You have people living in fear, people worried about their children. We have a crisis in our country," he said.

The violence in Newark is largely fueled by poverty and heavily armed drug gangs prone to violence.

"The central theme, throughout all the violence in Newark, is narcotics," said Newark police director Garry McCarthy. "Sometimes turf battles, sometimes battles over money, sometimes just narcotics dealers who just happen to be carrying guns who get into a dispute over a girlfriend and as such will whip out a gun and start shooting."

And to make matters worse, at the time the police department still used antiquated technology. Officers still logged crime reports by typewriter, rather than computer.

"It was reactive policing rather than proactive policing," McCarthy said.

This year shootings are down significantly, but murder remains a problem.

By the end of 2006, police were able to slow the homicide surge to an 8 percent increase, but that was still the most in 16 years. This year the homicide rate is holding steady, but city officials say it's still too high.

Watch "World News With Charles Gibson" Tuesday as Pierre Thomas reports on another N.J. community fighting crime with a high-tech approach.

See your state or city's crime statistics here, or visit the FBI's Web site for the complete 2006 Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report.

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