Crime

Violent Crime Rose in 2016 for the Second Year in a Row

Criminal justice experts say the rise is worrying, but still far below the crime rates of the '80s and '90s.

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Alyssa Pointer/TNS/Newscom

Violent crime in the U.S. rose again in 2016 for the second year in a row, according to national crime statistics released by the FBI today.

The FBI's Uniform Crime Report program, which collects crime data from police departments across the country, found that violent crime increased by 4.1 percent in 2016, along with an 8.6 percent increase in homicides. Those numbers come after a 3.9 percent and 10.8 percent rise in violent crime and homicides in 2015, respectively. Property crime, meanwhile, fell for the 14th year in a row, dropping by 1.4 percent.

Violent crime, like crime in general, had been steadily trending downward since the early 1990s, but Monday's report marks the first time since 2005 and 2006 that the U.S. has experienced a consecutive year-to-year rise in violent crime.

Warnings of out-of-control crime and violent criminals roaming the streets were a staple of Donald Trump's populist campaign rhetoric last year, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has warned of rising crime in many of his public speeches. The Trump administration has pushed back against a growing bipartisan consensus that disfavors the so-called "tough-on-crime" policies that dominated the 1980s and '90s, instead vowing to give police and prosecutors the maximum possible leeway to fight crime.

"For the sake of all Americans, we must confront and turn back the rising tide of violent crime. And we must do it together," Sessions said in a statement on the new crime numbers. "The Department of Justice is committed to working with our state, local, and tribal partners across the country to deter violent crime, dismantle criminal organizations and gangs, stop the scourge of drug trafficking, and send a strong message to criminals that we will not surrender our communities to lawlessness and violence."

On a conference call with reporters Monday, several criminal experts said that, while the continued increase in violent crime was significant and worrisome, current violent crime rates are still below those of 2008 and far below the peak rate of 1991.

Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, pointed out that only five years since 1971 have had lower violent crime rates than 2016. In 2005 and 2006, the U.S. also experienced a similar two-year rise in violent crime. "There were dire warnings from police, only to have crime then continue to drop," Gelb said.

The Brennan Center for Justice released a report this month predicting that, if current preliminary numbers hold steady, 2017 will indeed see a decrease in both overall and violent crime.

John Pfaff, a professor at Fordham University Law School, cautioned that crime is a complex, geographically concentrated phenomena, and that it can't simply be attributed to how many people are or aren't being sent to prison.

He noted that Chicago, which has been experiencing an unprecedented spike in murders over the past several years, was responsible for about 20 percent of the national net increase in homicides. However, half of Chicago's rise in murders were confined to five neighborhoods with 9 percent of the city's population. "So in other words," Pfaff said, "five neighborhoods in Chicago explain 10 percent of the national increase in homicide rates."

"Crime is not just a function of policing and prisons," Pfaff continued. "Over half of the drop in prison populations nationwide since 2010 has just happened in California, and in California, while they're home to 12 percent of the population, they only contributed to 5 percent of the increase in murders this year."

Likewise, New York City's violent crime rate has continued to hold steady or drop, even though it has overhauled many of its more aggressive policing practices in recent years, leading Sessions to call the city "soft on crime." In a statement, New York City Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill credited the NYPD's tactics with the crime drop: "Today's new data confirms what we in New York City have known for years now: Enhanced training, improved tactics, and constructive engagement with the public we serve all lead to long-term reductions in crime."

While the top line numbers of the FBI report will give pundits and public officials plenty to debate, the details will resist any sweeping explanations.

"Our broad, grand theories to explain what happened this year will almost inevitably be wrong," Pfaff said, "because they won't be looking nearly as granular as they should."

Bonus Reason link: Read my colleague Elizabeth Nolan Brown on how the UCR data shows human trafficking arrests are almost nonexistent in most states.

NEXT: Is Minnesota's Indefinite Detention of Sex Offenders Punitive or Therapeutic?

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  1. Let’s wait until this data is updated with the daily violence perpetuated by terrorist group antifa.

    Likewise, New York City’s violent crime rate has continued to hold steady or drop, even though it has overhauled many of its more aggressive policing practices in recent years, leading Sessions to call the city “soft on crime.”

    Where my stop and frisks gone?

    In a statement, New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill credited the NYPD’s tactics with the crime drop: “Today’s new data confirms what we in New York City have known for years now: Enhanced training, improved tactics, and constructive engagement with the public we serve all lead to long-term reductions in crime.”

    lol cuck.

    1. More importantly, how can we (the NYPD) get our cocks hard if we can’t just stop and frisk?

      1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        This is what I do… http://www.netcash10.com

    2. He forgot the #1 weapon in their arsenal, random blind-firing of your service weapon like a Stormtrooper with their blast-shield down.

    3. I disagree. Despite the rampant carnage caused by antifa, it’s almost never reported because the politically correct police departments have their hands tied and are too scared to report it and have to pretend like it isn’t happening.

      For example, I was taking a shower and an antifa SJW sprayed pepper spray on my huge cock. I chased the antifa SJW out of my house which is why I was naked on my porch rubbing my now shrunk dick and the cops felt like they had to arrest me and take off my Trump mask even though I had it on for a legitimate reason (protect face from more antifa SJW pepper spray).

      Seriously, fuck antifa and fuck the NFL.

      1. You’re literally the sixteenth person I’ve heard share this story – there is definitely a pattern developing. The antifa SJW’s are cock-hating terrorists, and should be treated as such.

        1. The most outrageous part? We got an occupancy code violation for all being on the porch at the same time. Welcome to the People’s Republic of Birmingham, where laws meant for black people get enforced against the Pure Race!

          1. Truly the stories Cuckllepsie is too scared to cover. He’s knows it would blow apart his sham that this website is for liberbrarians.

        2. You’re literally the sixteenth person I’ve heard share this story –

          You admit being a cuck!

          there is definitely a pattern developing.

          Yeah. You detemine what’s true based onj hiow maThe antifa SJW’s are cock-hating terrorists, and should be treated as such.

          1. Ooops. Try again,

            You’re literally the sixteenth person I’ve heard share this story

            You literally admit being a cuck! TRUTH is determined by how many wackos repeat the same story .. deep within your partisan cave,

            there is definitely a pattern developing.

            Yeah, the wackiness is inceasing rapidly on the alt-right since Trump became President,
            How many told you that Obama is a Muslim from Kenya?
            How about those space aliens n Roswell, NM?

      2. Another brainwashed conspiracy nut.
        Our politically correct President denies — as in lied about — the mass assault in Charlottesville, when alt-right charged counter-protesters who were just standing peacefully, but were beaten with clubs.

  2. Back in Tucson there was a neighborhood called South Tucson. Years ago it was annexed into its own city because crime was so bad. This 1 mile by 1 mile annex dropped Tucson overall crime rate significantly.

    So, what I’m saying is let’s make Chicago a distinct country.

    1. Here is what Chicago needs to do to solve its violent crime problem: allow their police to use more aggressive tactics, and ban guns.

      There is literally zero downside to my proposal. Ball is in your court, Chicago.

      1. Teach police how to elbow drop crime doers.

    2. it was annexed into its own city because crime was so bad

      lolwut – Did they build a wall around it, too?

      1. I read that more like South Tuscon was now excluded from other Tuscon’s crime stats.

        1. Basically. Made it it’s own City so it’s stats belong to it now.

        2. Oh I get it. I just find it surprisingly cynical.

    3. it was annexed into its own city because crime was so bad.

      Ex-nexed?

      Richmond CA did something similar. It went through a period of aggressive expansion, competing with neighboring cities for new territory, but darned if it didn’t incorporate a big donut-hole around an area known as “North Richmond,” which is essentially a sovereign community covering about 1 square mile that has no police and that Sheriffs refuse to enter our of sheer fear.

      Oddly enough, Richmond is still a shithole with awful crime stats.

      1. I’m always most impressed that people stick so well to their neighborhoods.

        Though, I lived in South Tucson and it didn’t seem all that bad. It was bad, but not to some comical degree. More like a standard really poor neighborhood.

        1. That’s actually exactly what North Richmond is like. I bid a job over in that area a few years back and didn’t find it strikingly different from any other shitty part of any standard city. In fact, I’ve done jobs in parts of Richmond-proper that seemed way worse.

          I think the city council figured the area was going to cost more in police services than it was going to generate in revenue, and so they simply incorporated around it.

          What I find surprising is that you seem to be suggesting that South Tucson was part of Tucson and the city actually cast off the neighborhood and said “you’re not part of Tucson anymore.”

          I didn’t think you could do that, but now that I think about it I can’t see a reason why not.

          1. Isn’t Richmond the city that people from Oakland are scared to go to?

            1. Isn’t Richmond the city that people from Oakland are scared to go to?

              Why, yes – yes it is. But part of that has to do with the lack of cultural attractions that Oakland has.

          2. That’s the legend at least of South Tucson. At the very least it is a city completely surrounded on all sides by Tucson itself.


  3. “So in other words,” Pfaff said, “five neighborhoods in Chicago explain 10 percent of the national increase in homicide rates.”

    So, what you’re saying is we should nuke those neighborhoods from orbit because it’s the only way to be sure?

    1. Game over, man, game over.

  4. Thanks, Chicago. You are a true Blue Model city.

  5. Violent crime is going up because of all the awesome jobs created.

    1. I think it is because of Trump, and that people could sense HIS coming and so went mad.

    2. Violent crime going up is going to increase certain professions:
      Police.

  6. Violent Crime Rose in 2016 for the Second Year in a Row

    Well, it coincides with the Trumpening. Coincidence?

    In all seriousness, I have to wonder how much of this is due to lefty terrorist orgs like Antifa/BAMN.

    1. Unfortunately, I think it’s due to people being let out of prison, both because of changes to laws and because of overcrowding in the prison system. We started seeing this in CA after we got the federal order to reform our prisons.

      This is like the necessary recession that would go along with significant cuts to federal spending – something we have to acknowledge is just going to happen once we can’t sustain keeping such a large percentage of our population locked in cages anymore. They don’t get out of the cage and put on suits and ties and go to work at banks.

      But we need to be prepared for when the law-and-order types come around waiving these stats. This is the inevitable consequence of locking so many people up in a situation where you eventually have to let them go.

      1. I would put some of it on the rise of the opioid situation.

        1. I would put some of it on the rise of the opioid situation.

          There’s probably some truth to that, as well.

          1. Tong wars in US Chinatowns have closely followed interceptions of opiate shipments for well over a century.

        2. Iffy.

          Overall use statistic tend to stay relatively static while you see fluctuation in certain segments dependent on the economics. Colorado has seen prescribed opioid use decrease, but heroin use is on the rise.

          And economics casts its shadow on crime as well- a goodish portion of the prison population are effectively an underclass- poorly educated, limited social mobility, and increasingly cut off from participation in the economy except through illegal means. Not to be droll, but when you hear how entrepreneurs complain about the byzantine levels of regulation they have to contend with, the people in prison never really had a chance. When you have a lot of laws, you have a lot of criminals as well.

          And now they have an added strike of a conviction against them as well as a contracting economy that has little use for a general laborer. Hell, even prison guard positions are likely to be automated in the not too distant future.

    2. I don’t think those groups are anywhere near active enough to significantly affect the crime statistics of a country of almost 350 million people.

      1. ^ Cuck who bought the mainstream media’s lies.

          1. *America-is-always-to-blame stream media’s

            *Piss-on-our-patriotism-before-the-football-game stream media’s

    3. I think those things are still insignificant compared to regular, non-political robberies, assaults, murders, etc. Antifa violence is troubling because political violence always is, and I find their politics repugnant. But it’s very limited. It just gets a lot more attention because it’s more interesting and sensationalizable than run of the mill crime.

      1. Plus, in order for it to impact the stats, the cops would have to be doing something about it, amirite?

        *looks around for high-five*

      2. How did pro-Mohammedan shape-shift into anti-fascist?

  7. “five neighborhoods in Chicago explain 10 percent of the national increase in homicide rates.”

    Now there is some news I can use.

    1. STFO of those 5 neighborhoods.

    2. Incorporate them into their own country.

    3. Send in UN peacekeepers and blame them for whatever goes wrong. But then we already have Chicago City Government for that.

  8. Once North Korea nukes us, the radiation will create superheroes and we can recruit them for vigilante justice!

  9. RE Violent Crime Rose in 2016 for the Second Year in a Row
    Criminal justice experts say the rise is worrying, but still far below the crime rates of the ’80s and ’90s.

    This is what happens when there are too many commercials on TV.
    People have time to go out and mug someone and come back the the show without missing what was going on.

    1. Oh.

  10. Light one up and relive that libertarian moment.

  11. Look at the charts. Violent crime tracks violent enforcement of religious prohibition laws. It is also a leading indicator of economic crashes. The Waffen Bush asset-forfeiture crash is what elected the guy who claimed to be Kenyan.

  12. More framing of the debate as overincarceration versus leniency.

    How about distinguishing between violent recidivist felons and other convicts?

    How about considering which offenses should be crimes in the first place – by which I mean the War on (Some) Drugs?

    1. How about letting judges be judges and not tie their hands through legislation like mandatory minimums, etc. We have politicians who want to be the judge and jury.

      It’s all part of that great “bipartisanship” we constantly hear about. Uniting together to craft some of the most awful, ineffective and Constitutionally questionable law written.

  13. “Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, pointed out that only five years since 1971 have had lower violent crime rates than 2016. In 2005 and 2006, the U.S. also experienced a similar two-year rise in violent crime. “There were dire warnings from police, only to have crime then continue to drop,” Gelb said.

    The Brennan Center for Justice released a report this month predicting that, if current preliminary numbers hold steady, 2017 will indeed see a decrease in both overall and violent crime.”

    Quick, better whip up some more crime hysteria. Stranger danger! Stranger danger! Roving killers on the streets!

  14. How will this year’s violent crime be counted? When the alt-right fascists assaulted peaceful counter-protesters …as proven here,undeniably .. will that be counted as one violent crime .. or as 150 (or whatever it was) violent crimes?

    And what about the psycho liar who is now our President?

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