In September the FBI released its annual report on crime in America, bringing the publicly available data up to the end of 2014. While elements of both the left and the right speak as though we're in the midst of a crime surge—the former in discussions of gun control, the latter in discussions of criminal justice reform—the FBI paints a less fearful picture.
Overall, the agency found that the violent crime rate declined in 2014—by 1 percent from the previous year, by 9.6 percent from five years before, and by 22.1 percent from 10 years before. The rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter was 1.2 percent lower than one year earlier, 6.1 percent lower than five years earlier, and 20.8 percent lower than 10 years earlier.
Robbery, burglary, larceny, and car theft all continued to drop as well. Motor vehicle thefts showed the biggest reduction from a decade before, with the rate sliding 48.1 percent.
The FBI's talliers recently revised their definition of rape, making cross-year comparisons difficult. But using the older definition, the crime increased slightly, by 1.6 percent, from 2013 to 2014. The rate was still 17.2 percent lower than 10 years earlier. The one other major crime rate that increased since 2013 was aggravated assault, which went up 1.2 percent. But that too saw a dramatic decrease in the last decade, going down 20.1 percent.
2015 may turn out to be another story. But as of the last year for which we have the data, crime was continuing its long decline.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Crime Declines, Again".