The national drop in homicides has overshadowed a countertrend of rising murders in suburbs, says the Wall Street Journal. as homicides fell nearly 17 percent in big cities from 2001 to 2010, they rose about 17 percent in suburbs during the same period, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Suburban murders, from domestic violence to robberies gone bad to massacres like the Newtown school shootings, make up about a quarter of all homicides in the U.S.
The sharpest increases in violent crime appear to be in suburbs of cities, including those of Houston, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta. The violent-crime rate in Atlanta's suburbs rose 23 percent between 2000 and 2008, while the city of Atlanta's violent-crime rate dropped 49 percent, says crime data in a 2011 study by the Brookings Institution. Criminologists and public officials cite weaker and more resource-strapped law enforcement in some suburbs. That attracts criminals who focus on suburbs, because they are looking for easier places than relatively well-policed cities to commit crimes. "They just shifted their operations," said Craig Steckler, the departing police chief of Fremont, Ca., and president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.