But national one-year averages mask better progress in big cities and a crime rise in the South.
After two years of increases, violent crime in the United States seems to be on the wane.
Overall, the number of violent crimes fell by 1.4 percent from 2006; in the 10 largest cities, homicides fell by nearly 10 percent, according to the preliminary 2007 statistics released by the FBI Monday.
Still, experts caution against reading too much into year-to-year statistics, and note that broad nationwide or regional trends can often mask important trends – not all of them positive – in specific cities or demographic groups.
"I think we see a continuation of what is basically a flat trend that we've been experiencing pretty much since 2000," says Alfred Blumstein, a professor of urban systems at the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Certain cities – notably Los Angeles and New York – showed big drops in their murder rate, he notes, while others, like New Orleans and Atlanta, saw increases. "What we're seeing is more individual city-based experiences than any national picture," he says.
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