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Crime in 2018: Updated Analysis

Summary: Brennan Center researchers estimate that overall crime, violent crime, and murder rates are expected to decline in some of America’s largest cities in 2018.

Published: December 18, 2018

In Septem­ber, the Bren­nan Center analyzed avail­able crime data from the nation’s 30 largest cities, estim­at­ing that these cities would see a decline in crime and murder in 2018. Our report, Crime and Murder in 2018: A Prelim­in­ary Analysis, concluded that crime and murder in 2018 are again declin­ing nation­wide, continu­ing the historic down­ward trend.

This analysis updates the Septem­ber report and finds that, where data were avail­able, rates of crime, viol­ent crime, and murder in major Amer­ican cities are estim­ated to decline through the end of 2018. However, murder rates in some cities remain above 2015 levels, demon­strat­ing a contin­ued need for evid­ence-based solu­tions to viol­ent crime.

This report’s main find­ings are:

  • Murder: The 2018 murder rate in the 30 largest cities is estim­ated to decline by nearly 6 percent. Large decreases this year in Chicago and San Fran­cisco, as well as moder­ate decreases in other cities such as Baltimore, contrib­uted to this decline. The murder rate in Chicago — which increased signi­fic­antly in 2015 and 2016 — is projec­ted to decline by 18.1 percent in 2018. The murder rate in San Fran­cisco is estim­ated to fall by nearly 27 percent. Baltimore’s 2018 murder rate is projec­ted to decline by 7.4 percent. Some cities are projec­ted to see their murder rates rise, includ­ing Wash­ing­ton, D.C. (by 39.5 percent), and Hous­ton (by 22.6 percent). Further study is needed to better under­stand the causes of these rises.
  • Crime: The over­all crime rate in the 30 largest cities in 2018 is estim­ated to decline slightly from the previ­ous year, fall­ing by 1.8 percent. While this conclu­sion is based on prelim­in­ary data, if the trend holds, the crime rate will fall to its lowest since at least 1990.
  • Viol­ent Crime: Viol­ent crime rates are projec­ted to decline in the major­ity of the 30 largest cities through the end of 2018. Over­all, the viol­ent crime rate is estim­ated to decrease by 2.7 percent, continu­ing a down­ward trend from 2017.

Estim­ates of crime and viol­ent crime are based on data from 22 of the nation’s 30 largest cities; estim­ates of murder include data from all 30 cities. While the estim­ates in this report are based on early data, previ­ous Bren­nan Center reports have correctly estim­ated the direc­tion and magnitude of changes in major-city crime rates.