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Expert Brief

Crime in 2017: Final Analysis

This final update to the Brennan Center’s 2017 crime data finds that the overall crime rate, violent crime rate, and murder rate in the nation’s 30 largest cities declined last year, though homicide rates in some cities remain above 2015 levels.

Published: June 12, 2018

In this final analysis of crime rates in 2017, the Brennan Center finds an overall decline in rates of violent crime, murder, and overall crime in the 30 largest American cities, though homicide rates in some cities remain above 2015 levels. Download the report here.

The data reported here refine an initial report released in September, Crime in 2017: A Preliminary Analysis, which concluded by noting that “these findings directly undercut any claim that the nation is experiencing a crime wave.” A December update reached the same conclusion, showing rates of crime, violent crime, and homicide all declining.

Updated Tables 1 and 2 show conclusions similar to the Brennan Center’s September and December reports, with slightly different percentages:

– The overall crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2017 declined slightly from the previous year, falling by 2.1 percent to remain at historic lows.

– The violent crime rate declined as well, falling by 1 percent from 2016, essentially remaining stable. Violent crime remains near the bottom of the nation’s 30-year downward trend.

– The 2017 murder rate in the 30 largest cities declined by 3.4 percent year-over-year. Large decreases in Chicago and Houston, as well as small decreases in other cities, contributed to this decline. The murder rate in Chicago, which increased significantly in 2015 and 2016, declined by 12.3 percent in 2017, but remains more than 60 percent above 2014 levels. The murder rate in Houston fell by nearly 17 percent. New York City’s murder rate also declined again, to 3.4 killings per 100,000 people.

– Some cities saw their murder rates rise in 2017, such as Baltimore (7.8 percent) and Philadelphia (13.1 percent). These increases suggest a need to better understand how and why murder is increasing in some cities. While Las Vegas saw its murder rate rise significantly, by 23.5 percent, this was due to the mass shooting at Mandalay Bay on Oct. 1, 2017.

The Brennan Center’s previous report on crime in 2017 is available here, and a report studying crime trends from 1990 to 2016 is available here.