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Year-End Analysis: Crime and Murder Down in 2017

All measures of crime in the 30 largest American cities — the overall crime rate, violent crime rate, and murder rate — are estimated to decline in 2017 according to a new year-end analysis. These findings directly undercut any claims of a nationwide crime wave.

December 20, 2017

New York, NY – All measures of crime in the 30 largest American cities — the overall crime rate, violent crime rate, and murder rate — are estimated to decline in 2017 according to a year-end analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

Crime in 2017: Updated Analysis directly undercuts any claims of a nationwide crime wave. Compiled by a team of economics and policy researchers, it updates the Center’s September report, Crime in 2017: A Preliminary Analysis.

“Once again crime rates remain near historic lows. This is welcome news as 2017 comes to an end, and a clear indication that claims of rising crime are unfounded,” said Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “However, there are some cities where violence has increased, and those concerning spikes need to be better understood and addressed.”

Key findings from the analysis include:

  • The overall crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2017 is estimated to decline slightly from 2016, falling by 2.7 percent.
  • The violent crime rate will also decrease slightly, by 1.1 percent, essentially remaining stable.
  • The 2017 murder rate in the 30 largest cities is estimated to decline by 5.6 percent. Large decreases this year in Chicago (down 11.9 percent) and Detroit (down 9.8 percent), as well as small decreases in other cities, contributed to this decline. New York City’s murder rate will also decline again, to 3.3 killings per 100,000 people.
  • Some cities are projected to see their murder rates rise, including Charlotte (54.6 percent) and Baltimore (11.3 percent).

“Since day one in office, President Trump and his administration have wrongly pushed this idea of ‘American Carnage’ and a nationwide crime wave,” said Inimai Chettiar, the director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “They appear to be trying to scare Americans into supporting some of the administration’s most controversial policies, from changes to drug prosecutions to aggressive immigration enforcement. But, numbers clearly undercut their claims. Crime rates this year remain near historic lows.”

“This latest research from the Brennan Center refutes claims that crime is on the upswing in this country,” said Mark Holden, general counsel and senior vice president at Koch Industries, which has long advocated for reforms in the criminal justice system. “That doesn’t mean we should be complacent. We should learn from the dozens of states that have made moves to successfully reduce crime and recidivism while also reducing incarceration. Such common-sense reforms make everyone safer, including law enforcement officers, and ensure that decades of bipartisan progress on criminal justice reform continue.”

“This overall drop in the national crime rate is welcome news for law enforcement officers and all those who care about safeguarding our communities,” said Darrel Stephens, former executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and a longtime chief of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina. "Our organization has years of experience analyzing crime data in major cities, and the Brennan Center’s methodology and analysis here is sound.”

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. And, click here to read more about the methodology behind the Brennan Center’s crime analyses.

For more information or to schedule an interview with a Brennan Center expert, contact Rebecca Autrey at or 646–292–8316.