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Is New Jersey Safer or More Dangerous? Not Clear From Statistics

Violent crime in New Jersey is down, at least according to the Uniform Crime Report released by the FBI. The latest reporting year, 2010, shows that overall violent crime is down by .2 percent, while the rate per 100,000 is also down by 1.2 percent. This is true for all violent crime categories except murder.

The number of murders in New Jersey in 2010 increased significantly, from 319 in 2009 to 371, an increase of 16.3 percent. And it was not just the larger cities that saw this spike - the increase was seen throughout the state. Is there one factor that explains the increase? Not really.

Some point to the bad economy. However, Wayne Fisher, of the Police Institute at Rutgers University, said that the link between the economy and crime is complex. For example, property crimes and robberies, which one might expect to increase during an economic downturn, barely budged, with a two percent increase between 2009 and 2010.

Some statistics coming from the Uniform Crime Report include:

• One murder, three rapes, 32 robberies and 38 aggravated assaults happened every day.

• There was $354.8 million worth of property stolen, and authorities recovered 26 percent of the $354.8 million worth of property stolen.

• Bias-related crimes, including harassment, increased by 13.5 percent

• Most crimes happened in August, with the fewest in February.

• Carjackings rose by 52 percent

• Domestic violence crimes increased by 1 percent, while murders stemming from domestic violence decreased 3 percent.

Another factor that may play a role in crime statistics is the number of police available to both prevent crime and solve crimes. The number of full-time police officers in New Jersey was four percent lower in 2010 because of layoffs attributed to the bad economy.

Source: NJ.com, "2010 Uniform Crime Report finds N.J. murders spiked 16 percent, increased in all corners of the state," by Christopher Baxter, Nov. 10, 2011.

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