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New FBI Numbers for 2016: Overall Crime Down, Uptick in Murder Rate

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s latest Uniform Crime Report found that the overall crime rate fell for the 15th year in a row in 2016. It also found the national murder rate increased, due in part to upticks in cities like Chicago.

September 25, 2017

Bureau Data Confirms Expec­ted Trends

New York, NY – The Federal Bureau of Invest­ig­a­tion’s latest Uniform Crime Report, released today, found that the over­all crime rate fell for the 15th year in a row in 2016. It also found the national murder rate increased, due in part to upticks in cities like Chicago.

The FBI’s new numbers confirm trends detailed in recent Bren­nan Center stud­ies. Accord­ing to the Center’s prelim­in­ary analysis of the UCR numbers, the FBI’s data show that the over­all crime rate decreased by 1.4 percent in 2016. The viol­ent crime rate increased by 3.3 percent. The murder rate increased by 7.9 percent nation­ally. Murder in the 30 largest cities increased by 14.8 percent. Chicago accoun­ted for more than 20 percent of the nation­wide murder increase in 2016, despite being home to less than 1 percent of the U.S. popu­la­tion.

Simil­arly, an April report from the Bren­nan Center on crime trends in the United States estim­ated the murder rate would increase by 7.8 percent nation­ally in 2016. A June analysis of crime in 2016 estim­ated that murder would increase by 14.5 percent in the nation’s 30 largest cities. The Center’s prelim­in­ary analysis of crime in 2017, released earlier this month, estim­ated that the rates of over­all crime, viol­ence, and murder in the 30 largest cities will all decrease this year. 

“The FBI’s data show trends similar to what we’ve found for crime, murder, and viol­ence in 2016,” said Ames Grawert, a coun­sel in the Bren­nan Center’s Justice Program. “Crime remains near historic lows, with an uptick in murder and viol­ence driven in part by prob­lems in some of our nation’s largest cities. At the same time, other cities like New York are keep­ing crime down.”

“The data debunk claims from the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion that crime is out of control, but do high­light cities where viol­ence is concern­ing,” said Inimai Chet­tiar, director of the Bren­nan Center’s Justice Program. “Chicago, for example, has had seri­ous issues that need to be addressed. But by paint­ing the entire coun­try with too broad a brush, the Pres­id­ent Trump and Attor­ney General Sessions are peddling fear and distract­ing from the frank and honest conver­sa­tions needed to find solu­tions to these real prob­lems.”

“The latest data under­cut claims of a national crime wave,” said Mark Holden, general coun­sel and senior vice pres­id­ent at Koch Indus­tries. “But they make clear that work needs to be done to stop these troub­ling local spikes in viol­ence, and persist­ently high rates of viol­ent crime in a few major cities. State and local lead­ers from across the coun­try have evid­ence-driven solu­tions, and we should learn from the dozens of cities and states that have success­fully reduced crime, incar­cer­a­tion, and recidiv­ism together.”

Read the Bren­nan Center’s prelim­in­ary analysis of the FBI’s numbers here, and the Center’s final analysis of 2016 crime rates in Amer­ica’s 30 largest cities here. Read the Center’s latest estim­ates for 2017 here. For more on crime rates in Amer­ica click here. All crime rate figures mentioned above were calcu­lated using unroun­ded, raw data, and include the same offenses as in previ­ous Bren­nan Center reports. For more inform­a­tion, see pages 1–2 of Crime Trends: 1990–2016.

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