Jackson's overall rate of violent crime decreased slightly for the first six months of 2008 as compared to the same period of 2007, according to the FBI's preliminary Uniform Crime Statistic report released Jan. 12. Numbers for murder and aggravated assault rose slightly, while rapes and robberies fell. The report shows a total of 729 violent crimes in the capital city from January through June 2008, as compared to 760 for the same period in 2007. The city's overall 4.1 percent decrease in violent crime is in line with the FBI's national statistic of a 3.5 percent drop in violent crime.
As the state's only city with a population over 100,000, Jackson was the only Mississippi city represented in the preliminary report, which consolidates figures supplied to the FBI by local law enforcement nationwide. Critics say because the FBI relies on figures voluntarily provided by law enforcement, their numbers may not be reliable. If a police department does not report crimes, or reports crime number inaccurately, the false numbers appear unverified in the FBI statistics.
Nonetheless, Jackson's numbers for property crimesburglary, larceny/theft, motor-vehicle theft and arsonclearly buck the national trend. Nationwide, the FBI reports a decrease of 2.5 percent in property crime, while Jackson reports a 5.6 percent increase.
Most surprising among property crimes is a whopping 316.7 percent increase in arsonfrom 12 arsons in the first six months of 2007 to 50 during the first half of 2008. Burglary rose 12.1 percent and car theft was up 11.8 percent.
The FBI will release the final report for the period, as well as the report for the whole of 2008 (which will include other Mississippi cities) in the coming months. The complete statistics for 2008 will like show a steep increase of 57 percent in Jackson's homicide rate over 2007, with 73 killings inside the city limits, compared with 51 in 2007.