[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] on Monday announced the launch [press release] of the Initiative for Safer Communities, responding to growing concern about the increase of violent crime in American cities. In the first increase since 2001, violent crime rose 2.2 percent in 2005 [JURIST report], according to the FBI's 2005 Uniform Crime Program [backgrounder], and under Gonzales' new initiative the Department of Justice will examine recent trends in gang violence, drug trafficking and prison release rates. The new DOJ review, announced in a International Association of Chiefs of Police in Boston, comes on the heels of a Police Executive Research Forum report [draft report, PDF; press release], which fueled concern about the increase of violent crime when it announced that murder, robbery and assault crimes rose [USA Today report] significantly in several cities at the beginning of 2006.
The DOJ will implement the comprehensive study in three phases, including observing crime increases in cities, analyzing observed crime rates for potential trends, and pinpointing current and potential federal programs that can help reduce violent crime rates. AP has more. USA Today has additional coverage.