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Justice Department: Violent Crime Drops 12 Percent In 2010

Crime scene tape is wrapped around a telephone pole in Detroit.
Bill Pugliano
Getty Images
Crime scene tape is wrapped around a telephone pole in Detroit.

Statistics released today by the Justice Department show that the number of violent crimes in the country continued their downward trend, dropping a surprising 12 percent in 2010.

The AP reports:

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported there were 3.8 million violent crimes last year, down from 4.3 million in 2009. Experts aren't sure why. The expectation had been that crime would increase in a weak economy with high unemployment like that seen in 2010.

The reality is that "we're surprised to find how much it declines," Professor Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School said Friday.

More than 80 percent of the decline in violent crime was attributed to a plunge in simple assaults, by 15 percent. Those assaults accounted for nearly two-thirds of all violent crimes in 2010.

The Justice Department also published a series of fascinating slides that show historical data. Some of the things they tells us:

-- The rate of victimization was down for Whites, but up for Hispanics and blacks.

-- Violent victimization was up when it happened at or near home and down when it was not at or near a home.

-- Violent victimization involving a weapon was up about 5 percent.

-- While total violent crime was down, people's perception is just the opposite. They believe crime keeps going up.

In its press release, the Bureau of Justice Statistics also notes that property crimes dropped more than twice the annual average from 2001 to 2009. The bureau points out one more interesting thing:

For the first time, males (15.7 per 1,000) and females (14.2 per 1,000) had similar rates of violent crime victimization in 2010. Historically, males have had higher rates of violent victimization compared to females. Males and females were equally likely to report violent victimizations to the police.

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