The violent crime rate in America as a whole and in almost all localities has been on the decline for YEARS, probably decades.
Comparing American cities to combat zones is ludicrous.
Even in places with higher than average violence the majority is criminal on criminal and very often drug or gang related.
Obviously, things happen, but "becoming grim" and "combat zone" is beyond exaggeration.
No, not boulder dash. The reality is that it depends on where you are. If one can believe the FBI statistics, violent crime decreased in the 1st half of 2011. However, I want to point out that supposedly unemployment has dropped as well. If one were to dig deeper, one will understand that there are a lot of numbers that go under-reported and/or misclassified.
In any event, here's a link to the 2011 1st half FBI stats.
Just glancing at the numbers it looks like top-tier cities are lowering crime rates but smaller cities are increasing.