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Medical advances spur decline in murder rate



Published: Mon, August 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Medical advances spurdecline in murder rate

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Improvements in emergency care over the past 40 years have helped to dramatically lower the death rate among assault victims by nearly 70 percent and, in the process, decrease the nation's murder rate, according to a new study.

"People who would have ended up in morgues 20 years ago, are now simply treated and released by a hospital, often in a matter of a few days," said Anthony R. Harris, a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who headed the statistical study with Harvard Medical School that looked at crime data from 1960 to 1999.

The study was published in the May issue of Homicide Studies, a quarterly interdisciplinary journal devoted to criminology.

Deaths from criminal assaults dropped almost 70 percent over the 40 years, with annual declines of 2.5 percent for firearm and knife assaults and 3.5 percent to 4 percent for other assaults, including poisoning and arson, the researchers found.

In 1960, police nationwide recorded 9,110 homicides and 154,320 aggravated assaults. That translates into 5.1 homicides per 100,000 people and 86.1 assaults per 100,000.

Researchers found 5.6 percent of those assaults ended in death.

In contrast, police in 1999 recorded 15,522 homicides, a rate of 5.7 per 100,000, and 911,740 aggravated assaults, a rate of 334.3 per 100,000.

But only 1.67 percent of the 1999 assaults ended in death.

Concert ends earlyafter fight breaks out

IRVINE, Calif. -- About 15,000 people were sent home early from a rap and hip-hop concert after a fight broke out and spilled onto the main stage, police said.

The "Beat Summer Jam 2002" concert at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater started at about noon on Sunday and ended after the brawl erupted about 7:30 p.m., said Lt. Al Muir of the Irvine Police Department.

Security officers at the event were overwhelmed by the fighting and called for help, Muir said. Officers from six nearby police agencies and Orange County Sheriff's deputies responded to the site and by 9 p.m. had evacuated the concert grounds and parking lot, Muir said.

Three people suffered minor injuries and one person was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, officials said.

No arrests were made as a result of the fight.

Police probe slaying onPacific island paradise

NORFOLK ISLAND, Australia -- Behind white curtains in makeshift booths, police began fingerprinting the entire adult population of this tiny tourist island today, hoping to solve the first murder here in almost 150 years.

Janelle Patton, a 29-year-old hotel employee, was found March 31, stabbed to death, wrapped in plastic and dumped near a picturesque waterfall. Police say they have suspects in the case, but hope a fingerprint match will provide enough evidence for an arrest.

The case has stunned residents of this tree-dotted outcrop, popular among mainland tourists for its sparkling beaches and lazy pace.

"Norfolk is a place like Australia was 10 to 15 years ago -- you don't lock your car, you don't lock your house and women feel a lot more confidence walking around here," said Brian Purss, as he waited with other islanders to be "inked" by police today. More than 1,600 of the island's 2,100 residents have been asked to provide prints, as have about 680 tourists who were visiting when Patton was killed.

Patton, a Sydney native, had been living on Norfolk Island for two and a half years, managing a hotel dining room.

Adventurer fails again

OMARAMA, New Zealand -- American adventurer Steve Fossett's hopes of breaking the world gliding altitude record looked good for a while Sunday, but in the end he couldn't find the elusive winds that would have pushed him into the stratosphere.

Fossett and retired NASA test pilot Einar Enevoldson spent five hours soaring to 30,000 feet as they searched over a 85-mile stretch of sky for the lift needed to reach thermal waves about 6,000 feet above them.

As with their first attempt at the record Saturday, Fossett said they "failed to find the elevator" to lift them through the gap and break the world-record height of 49,009 feet set over California's Sierra Nevada range in 1986.

Fossett, a 58-year-old Chicago multimillionaire turned adventurer, hasn't given up on breaking the 16-year-old gliding world record. Fossett said he'll be back in New Zealand in November with Enevoldson to prepare for a third attempt on the altitude record in June of 2003.

Associated Press




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