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Press Release

Final Brennan Center Analysis Shows Crime and Murder Rates Declined in 2018

If final estimates hold when the FBI releases its data in September, 2018 crime rates will remain near record lows.

June 12, 2019

New York, NY – A final analysis of available data from America’s 30 largest cities estimates that crime rates declined in 2018. Researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law found that rates of violent crime, murder, and overall crime all likely fell, with a significant drop in the overall murder rate.

“This is further evidence that anyone who claimed we were experiencing a ‘crime wave’ in America was just plain wrong,” said Ames Grawert, senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “If final estimates hold when the FBI releases its data in September, 2018 crime rates will remain near record lows. However, even with these drops it’s clear that some cities — like Baltimore and Chicago — still suffer from high rates of violence. Amid the broad declines, addressing the violence in these areas must be a key priority for policymakers.”

Crime in 2018: Final Analysis refines predictions released by the Brennan Center inSeptember 2018 and December 2018. It uses data from 25 of the nation’s 30 largest cities for overall crime and violent crime estimates, and from 26 out of 30 cities for the murder rate. Researchers found:

  • The 2018 murder rate in the 30 largest cities is estimated to have declined by 8 percent from 2017.
  • Overall crime is estimated to have declined slightly from the previous year, falling by 3.5 percent.
  • The violent crime rate is estimated to have declined by 4 percent from 2017. 

The drop in estimated murder rates reflected a decline in murders in most of the cities for which data was available. Some cities like Chicago and Baltimore are still struggling with violence, though 2018 murder rates dropped by nearly 12 percent and 9.1 percent respectively. Other cities experienced increases in murder rates. Washington, D.C. saw its murder rate jump by 35.6 percent from 2017 to 2018, while Philadelphia’s increased by 8.5 percent.

Click here to see more of the Brennan Center’s research on crime rates in America, including an analysis of historical crime trends from 1990-2016, available here.

For more information or to schedule an interview with a Brennan Center expert, contact Rebecca Autrey at rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu or 646-292-8316.

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