Violent crime on the rise in Phoenix, according to police

PHOENIX - Violent crime in Phoenix is up 28 percent compared to last year, but police say there is more to those statistics than meets the eye.

Violent crime includes murders, rapes, aggravated assault and armed robbery.

We compared the first six months of 2013 to the first six months of 2012, using statistics from Phoenix police as reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting program in conjunction with the FBI.

According to those statistics, there have been 5,710 violent crimes in Phoenix so far in 2013, as compared to 4,452 violent crimes during the same time period in 2012.

Aggravated assaults and armed robberies make up a majority of reported violent crime incidents. But homicides are reportedly down 11 percent.

Police believe part of the reasons we're seeing such a big increase in crime has been overstated due to coding issues.

Since January, police say they have been reviewing reports filed by officers, and "coding" or categorizing the crimes after the report is filed.

"What I mean by that is if somebody uses hands and fists in an assault, it doesn't necessarily mean it's aggravated. But we may have categorized it as that," said Sgt. Trent Crump.

Police say if you combine all assaults, simple and aggravated, there is only a 1.3 percent increase overall. They say the categories assaults are filed under shifted, likely due to coding.

Police say they're reviewing the issue. In the meantime they're focusing on crime hot spots throughout the city.

"I would tell citizens, they certainly don't have to be alarmed by the crime," Sgt. Crump said. "If you look at the crime rates, we're back to where we were in 2007-2008 with crime numbers, because we've seen historic lows the past few years."

PLEA, a police union, says it's not surprised by the numbers, since 300 to 500 officers were cut over the last few years, and a lot of the department's manpower is gone.

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