Fact-Checking Trump On Crime: The Numbers Don’t Add Up

July 21, 2016

During his acceptance speech in Cleveland, Donald Trump made the following statements on crime. See below for a fact-check on each:

  1. “These are the facts. Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this Administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement.”
  • Fact: Over the past 25 years, crime in major cities has fallen 66 percent. In the country as a whole, violent crime is half of what it was in 1991, and has gone down 26 percent in the last decade. Property crime is down 43 percent in the past 25 years. No single-year change has reversed that trend. Instead, the murder rate for 2015 remains close to 2012 levels — just barely above recent, historic lows.

  1. “Homicides last year increased by 17% in America’s fifty largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60% in nearby Baltimore. In the President’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone. And more than 3,600 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office.”
  • Fact: There is no national murder wave. However select cities have seen increased murders. A recent Department of Justice study showed the murder rate in the nation’s 56 largest cities rose by 16.8 percent in 2015. But two-thirds of that increase occurred in just 10 cities. A Brennan Center study of the 30 largest cities showed the murder rate rose by 13.2 percent in 2015. But half of that change occurred in just three cities — Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Murder nationally is still similar to what it was in 2012, at historic lows. 

“Overall, crime rates remain at historic lows. Fear-inducing soundbites are counterproductive, and distract from nuanced, data-driven, and solution-oriented conversations on how to build a smarter criminal justice system in America,” said Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “It’s true that some cities saw an increase in murder rates last year, and that can’t be ignored, but it’s too early to say if that’s part of a national trend.”

For more information, see our recent report, Crime in 2015: A Final Analysis.