More murders in 2008

RALEIGH There were 18 in 2006, 20 in 2005, and 15 in 2004. When you compare this year to last, the city has seen a 29 percent increase.

"They're certainly higher than anyone wants to see," offered City Councilman Philip Isley.

Isley chairs Raleigh's Law and Public Safety Committee. He says many of the murders have occurred in the southeast part of the city.

"We have one area of our city that's in dire straits right now that we need to pay attention to," said Isley.

Isley says tackling the crime problem in southeast Raleigh will be a top priority for the coming year. One possibility, he says, is a neighborhood revitalization effort.

"The city really should take a hard look at trying to figure out whether we can obtain properties that are problematic for the residents there and get rid of some of the bad elements," said Isley.

He also wants the city to consider putting more police on the beat in areas where murders have been on the rise. Isley says he's concerned that too much of the city's violence - and some of the murders - is gang-related.

He says there isn't one explanation for the spike in killings in 2008, but he also adds that the crime rate for all major incidents - including rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults - has held steady.

Overall, he says Raleigh is still very safe.

"Unfortunately, we have a blip on the radar screen this year, and I'm hopeful that's just an aberration and not going to be a trend now," he said.

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