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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.