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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 or 646–292–8316.