Contrary to Trump: Overall Crime Rate Stable in 2016

June 6, 2017

New York, NY – 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 for Justice at NYU School of Law. The overall national crime rate remained stable. On average, numbers show that Americans remain safer today than they have been at almost any time in the past quarter-century.
 
These findings undercut rhetoric from President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that crime is “out of control.” Crime in 2016: Final Year-End Data presents numbers from police departments in the nation’s 30 largest cities. It updates the Center’s report, Crime in 2016: A Preliminary Analysis.
 
Several key findings: 

  • The overall national crime rate remained essentially stable last year, rising by 0.9 percent, in the 30 major cities studied here.
  • Violent crime rates rose slightly, by 4.2 percent. The 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 murder rate in this group of cities increased last year by 13.1 percent. Chicago caused more of the increase in murders (55.1 percent) than preliminary data suggested.

“Concerns about a national crime wave are premature, but we are seeing flash floods in some individual cities,” said Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “What’s happening in Chicago is startling, and it’s imperative we figure out how and why murder has gone up so drastically.”
 
“Once again, facts fail to back claims from Trump and Sessions,” said Inimai Chettiar, the director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “Overall the country is near all-time lows in crime rates.”
 
Researchers believe, as outlined in the 2016 preliminary analysis, that possible causes of increased violence in Chicago could include higher concentrations of poverty, lower homicide clearance rates, and fewer police officers. There was also a similar phenomenon in the 2015 murder rate, when three cities — Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. — accounted for more than half (53.5 percent) of the increase in murders among cities studied.
 
For more information on crime rates in America, visit the Brennan Center’s resource page here. And to learn more about crime trends in the last 25 years, read Crime Trends: 1990-2016.

To schedule an interview with a Brennan Center expert, please contact Rebecca Autrey at rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu or 646-292-8316.

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