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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.