Overall crime down in metro Atlanta; slight uptick in violent crime called ‘nominal’

Overall crime is down in metro Atlanta, although violent crime has increased slightly, according a crime analyst’s assessment of FBI statistics.

The annual Uniformed Crime Report reflected a 1.9 percent increase in violent crime from 2011 to 2012 in a 30-county area federal officials regard as the metro area.

Across the country, violent crime — murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery — was up by 0.7 percent, the FBI reports.

Property crime went down locally by 4.8 percent, surpassing the national trend — down 0.9 percent — that FBI officials have marked in nonviolent offenses for a 10th straight year.

But the bump in violent crime is nominal, University of West Georgia criminology Chairman David Jenks said.

“Basically, you’ve got no difference,” Jenks said. “(Violent) crime really hasn’t gone up, and it hasn’t really gone down.”

Jenks suggested that police discretion in reporting crimes likely contributed to the meager increase.

“For something as small as 1.9, either it’s normal fluctuation and you can account for it through normal recording practices,” he said.

As for the drop in property crimes, he credited either fewer people reporting the crimes that include theft, arson, and burglary; fewer police discovering the crimes; or just an outright decline in the occurrences.

“That should be looked at as a good thing,” Jenks said.

The slim increase in last year’s violent crime numbers has done little to reassure residents of East Atlanta Village, where at least six homicides were recorded since May in an area that shares DeKalb County and Atlanta police jurisdictions.

“Folks were feeling great about the area and good about their own personal safety” before the killings, East Atlanta Community Association President Kevin Spigener told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’d started to see a turnaround in the area.”

Spigener acknowledged that what was once a renaissance in the community shifted recently to talks among residents of exodus, less than a week after mother of four Charlese Brooks was shot to death outside the Brick House Restaurant on Bouldercrest Road.

The randomness of some of the incidents, triggered by the armed robbery and shooting death of Patrick Catrona in May, is what has many residents concerned, he said.

“That could have been any one of us,” Spigener said.

Jenks, however, said the combination of the drop in property crimes and the slight increase in violent crimes creates an overall decline in crime that adds to a longtime trend nationwide.

“We’ve been consistently safer for the past four decades,” he said. “That’s pretty amazing.”

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