Violent crime in Buffalo jumped 6.5 percent last year, according to new stats released by the FBI. The increase, which contrasts with a nationwide decline of 2.5 percent, is largely explained by an increase in aggravated assaults.
I cover the police beat one day every three or four weeks, which partly involves reviewing arrest and crime incident reports, and I am not the least bit surprised by the numbers. There is a lot of ugly behavior in the streets of this city, as well as behind closed doors, particularly on the East Side and Lower West Side.
I read a lot of reports involving (1) brutal beatings in the streets and (2) men violating orders of protection to attack estranged wives, former wives and ex-girlfriends. The latter happens so frequently that I question if the courts take seriously enough violations of orders of protection.
News that violent crime is up puts to lie one of Mayor Byron Brown's main campaign themes -- that crime is down and the city is safer under his watch. Tell that to Javon Jackson's grieving mother.
Yes, the overall crime rate has dipped 2.1 percent, when property and other non-violent crimes are factored in.
But the measure of a city's safety is largely based on personal safety, which begins with freedom from fear of rape, assault and other street-level mayhem. And in this regard, Buffalo's numbers are headed in the wrong direction. Aggravated assaults increased 13 percent from 2007 to 2008, while rapes were up 6 percent.