Murders, Violent Crime Sharply Rise in 2015, Says FBI

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The FBI released its report on 2015’s violent crime rates on Monday, revealing a 10.8 percent increase in murders from 2014 to 2015, and a 3.9 percent increase in the number of violent crimes.

Violent crimes include “murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault,” according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.

Aggravated assault rose by 4.6 percent. Rape rose by 6.3 percent. Burglaries fell by 7.8 percent while larceny-thefts dropped 1.8 percent. Vehicle thefts increased by 3.1 percent and property crimes, not including arson, cost victims $14.3 billion. During the year, property-related crime dropped by 2.6 percent.

Media coverage emphasized the impact of the crime rise on the popularity of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The Washington Post: “Violent crime and murders both went up in 2015, FBI says”

The long-awaited FBI report was released amid heightened scrutiny of violent crime in the United States, propelled by an increase in homicides in a number of major cities and repeated comments from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump…

The FBI statistics were released just hours before Trump and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, meet for their first presidential debate. Crime and law enforcement have become major themes of this campaign, with Trump framing himself as a candidate of law and order and regularly invoking increases in homicides (particularly in Chicago, which led the country in killings last year and far outpaces any other city so far this year)…

Trump’s comments on the subject, part of a campaign pitch that describes America in grim, bleak terms, have ranged from accurately citing statistics showing homicide increases in cities to blanket, untrue assertions that crime is at unprecedented levels. The Brennan Center, in its analysis last week, said there is no proof of a nationwide crime wave.

In fact, the Brennan Center downplayed the results of its analysis to support its criminal-leniency policies and sentencing rewrites at the federal level. From 2014 to 2016, using data collected from police departments in the 30 largest U.S. cities, the Center projected murders would increase 31.5 percent within 24 months.

Reuters looked for possible good news: “Violent crime in U.S. rose in 2015 but far from peak levels: FBI”

Coming on the day of the first debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the report could “be turned into political football,” said Robert Smith, a research fellow at Harvard Law School…

Trump last week praised aggressive policing, including “stop-and-frisk” tactics that critics say unfairly target minorities.

The Guardian wrung its hands over Trump’s possible political gain from public worries about rising crime, after leading with “Murders up 10.8% in biggest percentage increase since 1971, FBI data shows.”

Trump has blamed Obama and his administration for a “rollback of criminal enforcement” that has made the country less safe…

Trump and other politicians, [executive director of Color of Change Rashad Robinson] said, “have started us down a path to undo long-fought gains in criminal justice reform, and we should not let the positive momentum be derailed by a lack of facts, by fear, by racism and by demagoguery.”

The Daily Beast reported: “Violent Crime Is Up, but Donald Trump Is Still Wrong”

Trump—who calls himself the “law and order” candidate—has been stepping up his efforts to use the crime issue to supposedly appeal to African American voters and definitely stoke fears among his white working class base…

By any measure violent crime in the U.S. is near historic lows and the country is dramatically safer than it was a quarter century ago. Homicide and other violent crime are at about half of what they were at their peak in 1991. Gun homicides have dropped by about 40 percent since 1993…

Nevertheless, Trump has been pouncing on crime and its racial contours to paint himself as a friend to minority communities, but thanks to tired strategies or bad optics that message has so far failed to land.

According to The Huffington Post“2015 Was One Of The Safest Years In The Past 2 Decades, According To FBI Crime Stats”

2015 was safer than any year during the presidencies of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush or Ronald Reagan. Looking back at trends over the past five and 10 years, the total number of violent crimes in 2015 was 0.7 percent below the 2011 level and 16.5 percent below the 2006 level. Nevertheless, in a poll conducted earlier this year by The Huffington Post and YouGov, most Americans incorrectly believed that crime had risen overall in the past 10 years.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has declared himself the “law and order” candidate, is widely expected to seize on the statistical uptick in the homicide numbers ahead of the first presidential debate on Monday night.

The FBI also found that after Obama’s “stigmatize-and-federalize” campaign against local and state law enforcement began, crime began to rise:


Many Americans are worrying a great deal about crime afflicting their communities:

The Gallup poll discovered that 53 percent of respondents say they now “worry a great deal” about rising rates of crime and violence. That is a rapid rise — in 2014,  just 39 percent were worried a” great deal” as they are today.

Concern among swing-voting independents rose from 36 percent to 53 percent. Among Republicans, the “great deal” number rose 15 points up to 53 percent, bringing it level with the 52 percent concern among Democrats.

Seventy percent of people with just high-school degrees — but only 32 percent of people with college degrees — said they were worried a great deal about crime. Those two numbers have risen by 20 points and 1 point, respectively, since 2014.

Concern among middle-income people has risen by 20 points since 2014, up to 57 percent. Among upper-income people, concern has apparently risen by only eight points, to merely 36 percent.


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