Yesterday, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) put out a statement reacting to the release of FBI’s annual crime statistics report. The report revealed that violent crime has increased nationally for the second consecutive year. This is the first time that violent crime has increased for two straight years since 1994, but the most troubling aspect of the report is that murders increased by 3.4% to their highest level since 1998.

“This report should be received as a wake up call by the Administration and by Congress that we are failing in one of our most important responsibilities – to protect American families and American communities from crime,” said Sen. Biden. “We need to recommit ourselves to the balanced, comprehensive approach to fighting crime that brought crime rates down throughout the 1990s – prevention and treatment programs, strong federal support for state and local law enforcement, tough but fair criminal laws, and prisons that provide offenders with the skills and resources to reenter our communities as productive, law-abiding citizens.”

Biden said that the good news is that we already know how to deal with this problem. “The good news is we know how to fix the problem – combined with effective prevention programs, more police mean safer streets,” said Sen. Biden. “Back in the 1990s, we faced a similar violent crime crisis. We stepped up to the plate and passed the most sweeping anti-crime bill in our history. The centerpiece of this landmark bill was the Community Oriented Policing Services Program – the COPS program. We funded 118,000 local officers, expanding community policing across the nation. And it worked – crime rates fell for eight straight years. Violent crime dropped 26 percent; the murder rate dropped 34 percent.”

He also called for the FBI to hire more agents to replace those who were diverted to deal with the terrorist threat. “Since September 11, the Administration has also reassigned 1,000 FBI agents previously dedicated to fighting crime to the counterterrorism mission,” Sen. Biden continued. “We need to replace those agents and bring the crime fighting capability of the FBI back to full strength. We must insist on giving all law enforcement, federal, state, and local, the tools and resources they need to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

In the post 9/11 era, the budget for the COPS program was cut as law enforcement turned its attention to terrorism. I believe that what Biden is proposing is part of a solution. More law enforcement officers alone are not going to decrease violent crime. The problem is that the underlying causes of an increase in violent crime could be social, economic, or even cultural. The hiring of more police officers is a great step because it helps deal with the problem of increased crime, by getting criminals off the streets, but the much more difficult question to answer is why is violent crime increasing?

Full text of Biden statement

Jason Easley is the politics editor at His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.

 Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET



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