Bryan Burrough is the lead writer of the new Vanity Fair article "The Snowden Saga: A Shadowland of Secrets and Light."
FBI data show increases of crime in the West in 2012
Violent crimes have been falling nationally year after year, but preliminary data released by the FBI show that trend reversed in 2012. Crime increases were most apparent in the Western United States.
According to the FBI's preliminary data, law enforcement agencies in western states documented a 3.3 percent increase in violent crimes, compared to 1.2 percent increase nationwide. The West also saw more than a 5 percent increase in property crimes, while those crimes fell in the rest of the country.
Here in the Valley however, most law enforcement agencies recorded stagnant violent crime numbers and fewer property crimes.
One clear exception were aggravated assaults in the city of Phoenix; they increased 28 percent from 2011 to 2012.
"That is important to look at, because many aggravated assaults over time turn into murders or attempted murders," said Scott Decker, the director of Arizona State University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Decker said whenever he sees a change in a crime stat of more than 10 percent from one year to the next, he wonders if there may have been a change in how the law enforcement agency is recording the crime.
Phoenix Police Department did not return a phone call to comment on Tuesday afternoon.
As for why the national violent crime rate is on the rise after years of falling crime rates, Decker said one explanation may be the age of the population. He said one factor may be the "echo Baby Boom" generation, also known as Generation Y.
"Crime is largely a young man's game," Decker said. "What that means is, at times that we have large numbers of men in the ages of 13 to 25, we see increases in crime. As those numbers decline, the aggregate crime rates tend to go down as well."