Violent Crime Blazing Back in America

Report to cite first back-to-back annual increases in generation.

ByABC News
June 2, 2007, 7:21 PM

June 2, 2007 — -- For the second year in a row, violent crime has increased, Justice Department officials tell ABC News.

A report to be released Monday cites a 1.3 increase in 2006. But robberies were up 6 percent, and murders in large cities also were up 6 percent.

James Fox, a professor at Northeastern University, said part of the problem is that "gangs have made a comeback, and they are particularly well organized."

Knowing that the FBI will report higher crime figures on Monday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced Friday he will propose tougher laws and will expand federal anti-violence task forces in 25 cities to four more -- Orlando, Fla.; Mesa, Ariz.; San Bernadino, Calif.; and San Juan, P.R.

"Each of these cities has seen an unacceptable increase in homicides or other violent crimes," Gonzales said.

But critics say sending more federal teams may not be the answer. The Justice Department's inspector general has found that they waste time and money by failing to coordinate efforts:

Until 2005, violent crime had steadily dropped over 15 years. The new rise in violence is gradual, not a tidal wave. But it is still sobering for law enforcement agencies that now realize they have been overconfident.

In Washington, D.C., police officials had bragged that violent crime in the nation's capital had gone down. Now they admit they were wrong. Last year, it was up 9 percent.

"For years it has been very frustrating for those citizens and to the police when you hear all the press and media relations saying things are better, things are safer, and yet you have citizens still afraid to go to the grocery store," Officer Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the Fraternal Order of the D.C. Police Labor Committee, told ABC News.