WASHINGTON -- The government selected 18 cities and sprawling suburban regions Wednesday to study for clues on why homicides and other violent crimes are on the rise nationally.
The Justice Department study comes after FBI data in September showed violent criminal activity _ including rape, murder, robbery and aggravated assault _ rising by 2.2 percent from last year. That marked the first increase in violent crimes since 2001.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced the study at a Boston meeting last month with police chiefs and other law enforcement officials. It will be rolled out in three phases: looking at crime increases in cities, analyzing those results for any trends, and identifying federal programs that can help.
It was not clear whether more federal funding will be available for cities, but Justice Department officials said that "new initiatives" could be created, if necessary.
The cities and regions are: Atlanta; Boston; metropolitan Charlotte, N.C.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Columbus, Ohio; Hartford, Conn.; Houston; Jersey City, N.J.; metropolitan Kansas City, Mo.; Miami; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Nashville, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; Omaha, Neb.; Portland, Ore.; San Bernardino County, Calif.; San Diego; and the cities constituting the Tidewater, Va., area.