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Expert Brief

Crime in 2016: Final Year-End Data

Chicago accounted for more than 55 percent of the murder increase last year, according to a new analysis of crime data by the Brennan Center. The overall national crime rate remained stable.

Published: June 6, 2017

This analysis finds that Amer­ic­ans are safer today than they have been at almost any time in the past 25 years.

Based on new year-end data collec­ted from police depart­ments in the 30 largest cities, crime in 2016 remained at historic lows across the coun­try. Although there are some troub­ling increases in murder in specific cities, these trends do not signal the start of a new national crime wave. What’s more start­ling, this analysis finds that the increase in murders is even more concen­trated than initially expec­ted. Chicago now accounts for more than 55.1 percent of the total increase in urban murders — up from an earlier projec­tion of 43.7 percent.

Final Year-End Find­ings:

  • The over­all crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2016 remained largely unchanged from last year. Specific­ally, over­all crime rose by 0.9 percent, essen­tially remain­ing stable.
  • The murder rate rose in this group of cities last year by 13.1 percent.  
  • Alarm­ingly, Chicago accoun­ted for 55.1 percent of the total increase in urban murders — more than prelim­in­ary data sugges­ted.
  • A similar phenomenon occurred in 2015, when three cities — Baltimore, Chicago, and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — accoun­ted for more than half (53.5 percent) of the increase in murders.
  • Some cities are exper­i­en­cing an increase in murder while other forms of crime remain relat­ively low. Concerns about a national crime wave are prema­ture, but these trends suggest a need to under­stand how and why murder is increas­ing in these cities.
  • Viol­ent crime rates rose slightly. The 4.2 percent increase was driven by Chicago (16.5 percent) and Baltimore (18.6 percent). Viol­ent crime still remains near the bottom of the nation’s 30-year down­ward trend.

The Bren­nan Center’s previ­ous analysis of crime in 2016 is avail­able here, and a previ­ous report study­ing crime trends from 1990 to 2016 is avail­able here.

Crime in 2016: Final Year-End Data