Startling New Stats Show Cross-Country Crime Spike

ByABC News
October 12, 2006, 12:26 PM

Oct. 12, 2006 — -- ABC News has obtained exclusive data that shows the murder and robbery surge that spiked last year has continued in 2006, and in many communities across the country, crime has gotten worse. The Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank that serves many of the nation's police departments, examined the murder and robbery stats in 53 U.S. cities for the first six months of this year.

There is a lot more behind the crime spike than mere numbers. To learn more about what's driving the startling statistics, watch World News With Charles Gibson tonight at 6:30 ET.

Murder was up in 26 of 53 cities and robberies rose in 43 of 53 jurisdictions. For all jurisdictions reporting to the group, murder was up 4 percent. For the overall survey, robberies were up 9.7 percent. The report, titled "A Gathering Storm: Violent Crime in America," is scheduled for release this coming Sunday at a conference of roughly 100 police chiefs in Boston.

To understand why police around the country have grown so alarmed, one needs to look closer at individual cities, which have witnessed an increase in the level of violence not seen in more than a decade.

For many cities, the increase in violence has been dramatic. In Boston, murder was up a whopping 27.5 percent in the first six months of this year, and that follows a whopping 19.6 percent jump in 2005. In Memphis, murder increased 27 percent in 2005 and 43 percent in 2006. Police say the crime wave has been triggered by a lethal combination of increased gang activity, violent offenders returning from prison and kids who have easy access to guns.

In Cincinnati, murder was up 25 percent in 2005 and was still up significantly 19 percent the first six months of 2006, Vincent DeMasi, assistant chief of the Cincinnati Police Department, told ABC News in an interview. "What we are experiencing is primarily drugs, again, individuals coming into the community that are involved primarily in drug trafficking, buying or selling drugs, and they are involved in a world ... that has no boundaries, no rules and violence prevails," he said.