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Contrary to Trump: Overall Crime Rate Stable in 2016

Chicago accounted for more than 55 percent of the murder increase last year, according to a new analysis of crime data. The overall national crime rate remained stable. Americans are safer today than at almost any time in the past 25 years.

June 6, 2017

New York, NY – Chicago accoun­ted for more than 55 percent of the murder increase last year, accord­ing to a new analysis of crime data by the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. The over­all national crime rate remained stable. On aver­age, numbers show that Amer­ic­ans remain safer today than they have been at almost any time in the past quarter-century.
 
These find­ings under­cut rhet­oric from Pres­id­ent Donald Trump and Attor­ney General Jeff Sessions that crime is “out of control.” Crime in 2016: Final Year-End Data presents numbers from police depart­ments in the nation’s 30 largest cities. It updates the Center’s report, Crime in 2016: A Prelim­in­ary Analysis.
 
Several key find­ings: 

  • The over­all national crime rate remained essen­tially stable last year, rising by 0.9 percent, in the 30 major cities stud­ied here.
  • Viol­ent crime rates rose slightly, by 4.2 percent. The increase was driven by Chicago (16.5 percent) and Baltimore (18.6 percent). Viol­ent crime still remains near the bottom of the nation’s 30-year down­ward trend.
  • The murder rate in this group of cities increased last year by 13.1 percent. Chicago caused more of the increase in murders (55.1 percent) than prelim­in­ary data sugges­ted.

“Concerns about a national crime wave are prema­ture, but we are seeing flash floods in some indi­vidual cities,” said Ames Grawert, a coun­sel in the Bren­nan Center’s Justice Program. “What’s happen­ing in Chicago is start­ling, and it’s imper­at­ive we figure out how and why murder has gone up so drastic­ally.”
 
“Once again, facts fail to back claims from Trump and Sessions,” said Inimai Chet­tiar, the director of the Bren­nan Center’s Justice Program. “Over­all the coun­try is near all-time lows in crime rates.”
 
Research­ers believe, as outlined in the 2016 prelim­in­ary analysis, that possible causes of increased viol­ence in Chicago could include higher concen­tra­tions of poverty, lower homicide clear­ance rates, and fewer police officers. There was also a similar phenomenon in the 2015 murder rate, when three cities — Baltimore, Chicago, and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — accoun­ted for more than half (53.5 percent) of the increase in murders among cities stud­ied.
 
For more inform­a­tion on crime rates in Amer­ica, visit the Bren­nan Center’s resource page here. And to learn more about crime trends in the last 25 years, read Crime Trends: 1990–2016.

To sched­ule an inter­view with a Bren­nan Center expert, please contact Rebecca Autrey at rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu or 646–292–8316.

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