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Fact Check: Rising Crime Rates and the Presidential Election

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s comments on 'rising crime’ are not supported by data.

August 16, 2016

Tonight, Repub­lican pres­id­en­tial nominee Donald Trump will appear at a town hall event in Milwau­kee, where protests and repor­ted acts of viol­ence erup­ted in the city’s Sher­man Park neigh­bor­hood over the week­end follow­ing the shoot­ing of an armed man by a police officer. The discus­sion may revisit the candid­ate’s recent state­ment that “Decades of progress made in bring­ing down crime are now being reversed.”

That claim is not suppor­ted by data. Nation­ally, crime has dropped 23 percent since 2006, accord­ing to a Bren­nan Center analysis released earlier this summer.

A separ­ate study found crime dropped in two-thirds of cities analyzed last year. However, the murder rate is up in some major cities, includ­ing Baltimore, Chicago, and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. That study also found that cities with high crime struggled with high poverty and unem­ploy­ment – an exper­i­ence shared by some Milwau­kee communit­ies.

“Over­all, crime rates remain at historic lows. Fear-indu­cing sound­bites distract from  the data-driven and solu­tion-oriented conver­sa­tions happen­ing across the coun­try between law enforce­ment and communit­ies on how to build a smarter crim­inal justice system,” said Ames Grawert, coun­sel in the Bren­nan Center’s Justice Program. “It’s true that some cities are strug­gling with increased crime and viol­ence, but it’s too early to say if these are local prob­lems, or part of a national trend.”

To speak with a Bren­nan Center expert on crime rates, contact Naren Daniel at or 646–292–8381.