The decline in homicides nationally has overshadowed a countertrend: rising murders in the suburbs, the communities that ring cities and have long been promoted as havens from violent crime. U.S. homicides fell sharply from 2001 to 2010, including a 16.7% drop in big cities, according to a federal Bureau of Justice Statistics study of the most recent, reported data. That is because of a host of factors, including better medical treatment for victims of violent injury and aggressive police measures in megacities like New York and Los Angeles.
But homicides rose 16.9% in suburbs during the same period, according to the BJS. This came during a time when populations in both large cities and suburbs grew substantially.
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% between 2000 and 2008, while the city of Atlanta’s violent-crime rate dropped 49%, according to federal crime data in a May 2011 study by the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.