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Gun assaults, other crimes dropped in Pittsburgh last year

New crime statistics from the federal government show that the number of gun crimes in Pittsburgh dropped in 2010. The drop was part of an overall sharp reduction in crime in the city, which mirrored a lower number of theft and violent crimes in the United States.

Figures released in the Federal Bureau of Investigations' Uniform Crime Report for 2010 show that gun assaults went down in Pittsburgh, though homicides by gun were up. There were 55 murders in the city last year, and most of the victims were shot to death, according to the FBI report. Police officials said that the 55 homicide figure is about average, though it is an increase from the 39 homicides in 2009.

Overall, violent crime in Pittsburgh dropped nearly 9 percent from 2009 to 2010. That's better than the U.S. as a whole, which had a 6 percent drop. Violent crime has been dropping in the city for several years, though the rate is increasing. The reduction was 8 percent in 2009 and just 2.8 percent in 2008.

Conventional wisdom holds that crime tends to go up in bad economic times due to unemployment and financial pressures. But the Uniform Crime Report seems to contradict that prediction. A professor from Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz School of Public Policy said the reason for the drop in crime in the midst of the current high unemployment is "though to pinpoint." The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has a smaller force than in years past, so an increased police presence is not the reason either.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Rates of violent, property crimes drop again here," Sadie Gurman, Sep. 20, 2011

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