Friday, June 01, 2001

Drop in crime may be over

Rash of local violence may boost rates

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        An unsolved shooting in Cincinnati on Thursday and a flurry of violence in recent weeks could be signs the downward trend in crime has stopped.

        Cincinnati police continue searching for two men in the early morning shooting death of a West End man. Two other shootings happened Wednesday in Over-the-Rhine. There was a kidnapping, a beating and an armed robbery in the same neighborhood Tuesday.

        Cincinnati police officers said those and similar incidents in recent weeks, along with April's riots, could affect the city's annual crime rates.

   Change between 2000 and 1999
Violent crime ... +0.1 percent
Property crime ... 0.0%
Murder ... -1.1%
Forcible rape ... +0.7%
Robbery ... -0.7%
Aggravated assault ... +0.4%
Burglary ... -2.1%
Larceny-theft ... +0.1%
Motor-vehicle theft ... +2.7%
Total ... 0.0%
Source: FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program
        “If a trend like that continues, we could perhaps see an increase in violent crime, but our hope here is that this is just something unusual,” said Lt. Ray Ruberg, spokesman for the police division.

        Officially, Cincinnati continues to experience drops in the crime rate, based on 2000 crime statistics.

        The latest decrease was less than 1 percent between 1999 and 2000, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which released its latest figures on Wednesday.

        There were 21,646 murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts in Cincinnati in 2000, compared with 21,727 in 1999. A significant drop in murders and larcenies accounted for the overall decrease, the report said.

        For the nation, the overall crime index went unchanged from 1999. Final figures for 2000 will be released in autumn. This came after eight years of declining rates.

        It's inevitable for Cincinnati and the nation to experience a jump in the years to come, said Clermont County Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg, citing juvenile statistics.

        Deputies in his county have responded to 911 calls because children won't leave their beds for school or yell at and hit their parents. It doesn't bode well for the future, when these youngsters become adults, he said.

        “We're in for a big wake-up call in the next few years,” he said. “That could be the next dark cloud of the criminal justice system.”

        Cindy Shafer, president of Roselawn Community Council, said she feels safe in her neighborhood. She and her fellow council members have lobbied the police to target some drug-dealing areas. Their work has led to arrests.

        “It's rather hard for most people to have an effect on national crime rates, but you definitely can have an effect in your own neighborhood,” she said.

        The economy, schools, police agencies, city leaders and residents demanding more police enforcement all factor into the crime rate, experts said.

        “Crime seems to have gone down with the unemployment rate, (but) it's going to start going up again,” said Vincent Hoffman, a criminal justice professor at Michigan State University. “Society is never going to become perfect. Crime rates are trendy. They go up and down.”

        John Delaney, president of the North Avondale Neighborhood Association and a Kenton County public defender, said crime is a constant concern in his neighborhood.

        But he doesn't believe Cincinnatians should worry until the annual crime rate increases by 5 percent or more.


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