Despite drop in U.S. violent crimes, some states see rises: FBI

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 28, 2015 2:31 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of violent crimes in the United States declined slightly in 2014, continuing a trend that has been going on for at least 20 years, but some states like Florida and Montana saw an uptick in violent offenses, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported on Monday.

The estimated number of violent crimes in the United States in 2014 fell by 2,915, the FBI said in its annual crime report, dropping about a quarter of a percentage point to 1,165,383 from 1,168,298.

The decline continued a long-term trend that has seen the number of violent crimes drop by 35 percent, from nearly 1.8 million in 1995 to under 1.2 million in 2014, according to the FBI report "Crime in the United States."

But even with the drop nationwide, some states found themselves fighting an uptick in violent offenses, with Florida seeing a 16.9 percent rise, Montana's rate jumping 13.3 percent, Nevada up 6.9 percent and Nebraska higher by 6.6 percent.

There was no clear pattern among the states that saw increased violent crime.

Florida's overall violent crime rate is higher than the national average, and it saw jumps in the numbers of murders and manslaughters, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults. Nevada also has a higher crime rate and saw similar jumps in different violent crimes, but the number of rapes dropped.

Montana and Nebraska both have crime rates lower than the national average. Nebraska's rise in violent crime was fueled by a 10 percent jump in aggravated assaults and a small rise in rapes, while murders were down.

In Montana, however, several categories of violent crime rose, including murder and manslaughter, which jumped 60.9 percent, or 14 cases, to a total of 37.

By comparison, the number of murders and manslaughters in Texas rose by 44 to a total 1,184, an increase of 3.9 percent from the previous year. California had 1,699 manslaughters and murders, a drop of 47. Violent crimes were up six-tenths of a percent in Texas and down seven-tenths in California.

Overall, violent crime in the United States has been on a downward trend over the last two decades, but it has not dropped steadily from year to year, the crime figures showed.

Annual estimates have risen four different times, year-over-year, in the past two decades, including two consecutive years in 2005 and 2006. It was not until 2009 that the figures dipped below 2004 levels and continued their downward slope, the crime figures showed.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and David Alexander; Editing by Andrew Hay)