COLUMBIA — Violent crimes in Columbia increased between 2008 and 2009, according to the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Report.
There were 501 violent crimes reported in 2009, up from 392 violent crimes in 2008, the report said. Violent crimes include murder, rape, armed robbery and aggravated assault.
There were 19 cases of forcible rape in Columbia in 2008 and 32 in 2009. Aggravated assaults also jumped from 230 in 2008 to 309 in 2009.
Despite the increase in some violent crimes, Columbia's murder rate has decreased. There were five murders in 2008 and three in 2009, the report said. There have been no homicides in 2010.
Nonviolent crime rates fell slightly from 2008 to 2009. Burglaries, a nonviolent crime, decreased from 836 in 2008 to 692 in 2009. Motor vehicle thefts fell from 147 in 2008 to 132 in 2009.
According to a previous Missourian article, violent crime, adjusted for the increase in Columbia's population, was up 25 percent between 2008 and 2009. Despite that rise, crime rates remained relatively steady between 2001 and 2009.In the previous article, The Missourian used numbers from the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which collects data from every city in the state as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
According to the FBI report, violent crime rose 27.8 percent between 2008 and 2009.
Although violent crimes rose in Columbia in 2009, they fell for the United States as a whole. Violent crimes in the U.S. decreased by 5.5 percent between 2008 and 2009, and property crimes declined by 4.9 percent, according to an FBI news release.
The Columbia Police Department has attributed the rise in Columbia to multiple reasons, Public Information Officer Jessie Haden said. The economic downturn and Columbia's rising population were possible factors, she said.
"It's one of those things you could talk to 50 different people, and they could give you 50 different reasons," Haden said of the increase.
Haden also cited human emotion as one of the difficulties in preventing violent crime. Violent crime is often provoked by violent emotions such as jealousy or revenge, Haden said.
"It's an area where we traditionally have less impact," Haden said. "With violent crime, we know we stand a better chance to solve it than prevent it."
The department's new policy of geographic policing is being used to combat the rise in violent crime, Haden said. Through geographic policing, officers can become more familiar with particular areas in town and then can identify problems specific to that area.
"Thankfully the numbers in Columbia are still relatively low," Haden said.