New FBI Numbers for 2016: Overall Crime Down, Uptick in Murder Rate

September 25, 2017

Bureau Data Confirms Expected Trends

New York, NY – The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s latest Uniform Crime Report, released today, found that the overall crime rate fell for the 15th year in a row in 2016. It also found the national murder rate increased, due in part to upticks in cities like Chicago.

The FBI’s new numbers confirm trends detailed in recent Brennan Center studies. According to the Center's preliminary analysis of the UCR numbers, the FBI's data show that the overall crime rate decreased by 1.4 percent in 2016. The violent crime rate increased by 3.3 percent. The murder rate increased by 7.9 percent nationally. Murder in the 30 largest cities increased by 14.8 percent. Chicago accounted for more than 20 percent of the nationwide murder increase in 2016, despite being home to less than 1 percent of the U.S. population.

Similarly, an April report from the Brennan Center on crime trends in the United States estimated the murder rate would increase by 7.8 percent nationally in 2016. A June analysis of crime in 2016 estimated that murder would increase by 14.5 percent in the nation’s 30 largest cities. The Center's preliminary analysis of crime in 2017, released earlier this month, estimated that the rates of overall crime, violence, and murder in the 30 largest cities will all decrease this year. 

“The FBI’s data show trends similar to what we’ve found for crime, murder, and violence in 2016,” said Ames Grawert, a counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “Crime remains near historic lows, with an uptick in murder and violence driven in part by problems in some of our nation’s largest cities. At the same time, other cities like New York are keeping crime down.”

“The data debunk claims from the Trump Administration that crime is out of control, but do highlight cities where violence is concerning,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “Chicago, for example, has had serious issues that need to be addressed. But by painting the entire country with too broad a brush, the President Trump and Attorney General Sessions are peddling fear and distracting from the frank and honest conversations needed to find solutions to these real problems.”

“The latest data undercut claims of a national crime wave,” said Mark Holden, general counsel and senior vice president at Koch Industries. “But they make clear that work needs to be done to stop these troubling local spikes in violence, and persistently high rates of violent crime in a few major cities. State and local leaders from across the country have evidence-driven solutions, and we should learn from the dozens of cities and states that have successfully reduced crime, incarceration, and recidivism together.”

Read the Brennan Center’s preliminary analysis of the FBI’s numbers here, and the Center's final analysis of 2016 crime rates in America’s 30 largest cities here. Read the Center's latest estimates for 2017 here. For more on crime rates in America click here. All crime rate figures mentioned above were calculated using unrounded, raw data, and include the same offenses as in previous Brennan Center reports. For more information, see pages 1-2 of Crime Trends: 1990-2016.

To contact or 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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