Statistics show overall declines in both violent and property crime in the first half of 2019 compared to the same time frame the previous year, according to FBI crime data.
Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.
Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Aspiring drummer.
The Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report covers January through June 2019. It contains data from more than 14,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide that voluntarily submitted information to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
According to the report, all categories of violent crime offenses decreased between the first half of 2018 and the first half of 2019, including:
- Robbery (-7.4 percent)
- Rape (-7.3 percent)
- Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter (-3.9 percent)
- Aggravated assault (-0.3 percent)
Property crime also declined during the same period, specifically:
- Burglary (-11.1 percent)
- Motor vehicle theft (-6.7 percent)
- Larceny-theft (-4.2 percent)
The full Crime in the United States, 2019 report will be released later this year.
Have Past Record Lows For Violent Crime Ended?
Possibly (per the National Crime Survey for 2018), but the bottom line is that violent and property crimes are still at record lows for the country and, generally speaking, have been decreasing for the last two decades except for recent years (since 2015) with mixed results from the two main Department of Justice sources.
The principal reason for any confusion is the increase in “all” violent crime as measured by the National Crime Survey (an increase in violent crime of 28 percent from 2015-2018), and measures of “reported” crime compiled from local law enforcement agencies via the FBI. Per the FBI, violent crime increased in 2015 and 2016 but decreased slightly in 2017 (violence was essentially flat) and 2018 (a decrease of 3.3 percent).
There have been additional increases since 2000; the rate of violent crime in the US increased in 2005 and 2006 (via FBI data) but the index returned to decreases in 2007.
Thus we have a fundamental question, which holds more importance, a 28 percent increase in all violent crime per the National Crime Survey since 2015 or a 3.3 percent decrease in 2018 for reported crime from the FBI?
But the waters become murkier due to continued decreases in violent crime (a reduction of 3.1 percent) reported to law enforcement during the first half of 2019.
The confusion is the aggravated assault category which decreased by 0.3 percent in 2019 (essentially flat). The vast majority of violent crime falls into the assault category (aggravated and others). Per the chart below from 2018, there were 1,376,301 crimes against persons and 1,252,490 assault offenses (including aggravated assaults).
The chart is from the FBI’s National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS-an improved data collection system designed to replace the Uniform Crime Reports), not the Uniform Crime Reporting System mentioned in the report above. In 2018, approximately 44 percent of U.S. law enforcement agencies submitted data via NIBRS.
When relying solely on aggravated assaults from the Uniform Crime Reporting System for 2018, there were 1,206,826 violent crimes in the US with 807,410 aggravated assaults. Thus the vast majority of violent crimes fell into the category that declined by 0.3 percent, essentially flat, FBI.
Nevertheless, robbery, homicides, and rape, per the Uniform Crime Reporting System, fell by considerable margins for the first six months of 2019 thus leaving the debate as to whether violent crime is falling murky when considering data stating that violent crime increased 28 percent from 2015-2018 per the Department of Justice’s National Crime Survey, Crime in America.
National Incident Based Reporting System
See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.
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