WASHINGTON — Violent crime dropped 6 percent in 2010, marking the fourth straight year-to-year decline, while property crime was down for the eighth straight year, falling 2.7 percent, the FBI said Monday, referring to crimes reported to authorities.
Nationwide, there were an estimated 1.2 million violent crimes in 2010 and an estimated 9 million property crimes.
The rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter fell to 4.8 per 100,000 population, less than half what it was two decades ago. The last time that rate was lower was in 1963, according to FBI crime data.
An aging population, better policing and continued high rates of imprisonment for criminals are helping to drive down crime rates, criminologists say.
Robbery fell 10 percent, rape dropped 5 percent, and murder, non-negligent manslaughter and aggravated assault fell more than 4 percent.
Each category of property crime offenses decreased in 2010. The largest decline, 7.4 percent, was for motor vehicle thefts. Burglaries decreased 2 percent and larceny-thefts declined 2.4 percent.
“The last thing we should do is get complacent and say ‘mission accomplished,’ and so let’s transfer resources away to other areas,” said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University. “You don’t solve the crime problem. You only control it. Without sufficient support for policing and crime prevention, the numbers can go back up.”
Biker group mourns 5 who died at charity event
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — A community of bikers drawn together for charity was reeling Monday after five people died while camping at a Tennessee festival that the group stages to raise money for needy children.
An organizer of the Bikers Who Care event, Bill Langford, said the victims were overcome when fumes from a generator leaked into their rented camper. The married couple and three friends were found dead Sunday inside the vehicle. Police later detected dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the camper.
Only a few people were left at the Clarksville Speedway on Monday, loading up motorcycles and packing up campsites. Ron Keele of Cunningham, Tenn., said he had belonged to the group for more than 12 years and knew the victims, who he described as younger and newer members of the 200-member motorcycle club.
“It broke my heart,” Keele said Monday, tears welling up in his eyes.
Police are investigating but don’t suspect foul play. They said it will be up to a medical examiner to determine if the cause of death.
Clarksville police spokesman Jim Knoll identified the dead as 38-year-old James Franklin Wall II; 39-year-old Timothy Bryan Stone; 32-year-old Allison Elizabeth Bagwell-Wyatt; and a married couple, Jonathan Michael Over and Kathryn Elizabeth Over, both 27. All were from Clarksville.
Palestinians will submit UN membership letter
UNITED NATIONS — The Palestinians brushed aside heated Israeli objections and a promised U.S. veto Monday, vowing to submit a letter formally requesting full U.N. membership when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the General Assembly.
As the Palestinians edged closer to seeking statehood recognition from the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Abbas to meet with him in New York. The Israel leader said he wanted to resume peace talks, upping the pressure on Abbas and building on the frenzied diplomacy swirling around the Palestinians bid.
Regardless, Abbas said he had not been swayed by what he called “tremendous pressure” to drop the bid for United Nations recognition and instead to resume peace talks with Israel. Senior aides to the Palestinian leader said Abbas was undaunted by threats of punitive measures.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, however, there was still time to find a solution to the diplomatic crisis.
Clinton told reporters in New York that the U.S. is talking with all sides to defuse the standoff, noting that the week was young and there were still several days to seek compromise.
She joined Netanyahu in calling for new talks and repeated the U.S. position that the only path to a separate state for Palestinians is through negotiations with Israel.
Nabil Shaath, senior aide to Abbas, told The Associated Press that the Palestinian leader informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during their meeting Monday that he would present him with a letter requesting full membership on Friday, ahead of Abbas’ speech to the General Assembly. Abbas also met with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Gunmen from Congo kill 36 at pub in Burundi
BUJUMBURA, Burundi — Armed men from Congo burst into a pub in the central African nation of Burundi and killed 36 people, an official said Monday. One wounded man said an attacker yelled: “Make sure there’s no survivors.”
Burundi, a tiny nation still reeling from a civil war that killed more than 250,000 people, is awash in weapons but attacks like the one Sunday night are rare. Still, the region borders eastern Congo, which is wracked by violence from myriad rebel groups.
Bujumbura province governor Jacques Minani said the attackers targeted the pub in Gatumba, west of Burundi’s capital, after crossing the river from Congo. He said 36 people were killed.
Survivor Jackson Kabura, who was shot in the stomach, said the men entered wearing military fatigues.
“One of them said, ‘kill them all, kill them all. Make sure there’s no survivors,”’ he said.
Congolese military spokesman Col. Sylvain Ekenge said officials were “astonished” by reports that the attackers were believed to be from his country.