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News Scan

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Violent Crime in U.S. Rises for First Time Since 2006: Preliminary data on crime for 2012 from the FBI confirms that for the first time in six years, the United States experienced an increase in the rate of violent crime.  Timothy Williams of the New York Times reports that the data shows that cities with populations exceeding 500,000 residents experienced the largest increase, including a 12.5% increase in the murder rate.  The last increase in the national rate was in 2006 when violent crime rose by 1.9% after a decline of 17.6% from 1996 to 2005.  The data indicates that increased crime in the Western United States drove the national rate, with over twice the spike in violent crime than the Midwest five times the increase in the South.  The rate in the Northeast actually declined.  The rates for robbery, burglary and other property crimes, which declined in every other region, also climbed in the West, with auto theft increasing by over 10%.  While some experts opine that these increases are due to cuts in police, this does not explain why the West has suffered the most. 

Colorado Theater Killer Pleads Insanity:
A decision today by a Colorado judge could ultimately spare accused movie theater killer, James Holmes, from the death penalty.  Carol McKinley of ABC News reports that Holmes' plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was accepted today and will be his defense for the murders of 12 people and injury 70 more.  The next step will be a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, a time consuming process that could take months to complete.  If convicted,  Holmes could face a death sentence, unless he is determined to be mentally incompetent. 

Crime up in Oakland, much of Bay Area: The F.B.I.'s preliminary report on crime rates for 2012 showed that Bay Area cities suffered disproportionally.  Henry Lee of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that 11 of the 15 largest cities that encompass the Bay Area experienced higher levels of violent crimes in 2012 after a drop in 2011.  Serious violent crimes such as murder, rape, and robbery all increased in Oakland along with increases in property crime resulting in Oakland having the highest per-capita crime rate in the state. Oakland also saw a 29 percent increase in robberies, averaging almost a dozen a day.  Both the Oakland and San Jose police departments suffered budget cuts last year resulting in police lay offs.  San Jose recorded a 10 percent increase in violent crime, along with a jump in homicides from 39 in 2011 to 45 in 2012.    

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