For the first time since 2006, violent crime climbed in the US last year, preliminary FBI data show. Nationally, violent crime was up 1.2%. Urban areas led the increase, with cities of between 500,000 and 1 million people seeing a 3.7% jump in rates; murder rates in those cities were up 12.5%, the New York Times reports. In the biggest cities, however, the increase was less pronounced. Cities of 1 million or more saw violent crime increase 1.4%, with murders up 1.5% and rapes 3.2%. New York City, however, saw murders fall some 20%, bringing the number to 419—the fewest in half a century, the Times notes.
The 2012 increase comes after 2011 saw violent crime drop 3.8%. In 2006, it was up 1.9%—but before that, it hadn't increased in a decade. After years of decline, "we probably now have answered the question of how low it can go, and we may be bouncing off the bottom now," says a criminologist. But "we probably need another year to tell if we’ve got a pattern here." The increase may be a result of fewer police on the streets thanks to recession spending cuts, says another expert. (Read more violent crime stories.)