The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released their running assessment of violent crime statistics across the United States for 2018. And the results are undeniable: violent crimes went down substantially–almost across the board. Sexual assaults and rapes ticked slightly up, however, according to initial data.
The FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for 2018 notes that burglaries saw the steepest drop. Across the months spanning January to June of last year, those crimes decreased by nearly 13 percent. Next in line were robberies–which also decreased by just shy of 13 percent.
Generally considered the top-line indicator of the state of American violence, murders decreased by nearly 7 percent — 6.7 percent total.
Ames Grawert is Senior Counsel with the Brennan Center for Justice’s flagship Justice Program. Grawert said that while not definitely indicative of the final numbers that will be released, the FBI’s initial data drop suggests a similarly large year-long plunge.
“The FBI’s midyear reports are notoriously unreliable,” Grawert tweeted, “but I wouldn’t expect the trend or magnitude to change that much.”
Jeff Asher, a former crime analyst for the City of New Orleans who now contributes to the sports and political data blog 538, agreed with Grawert that the FBI’s first tranche of data suggests that murders substantially decreased in 2018.
“Midyear UCR is usually decent-ish at projecting the full year trend,” Asher tweeted, “a ~5% drop in murder nationally still seems most likely outcome.”
Law&Crime followed up with Asher, who noted that the data is “not inherently untrustworthy and it gives the general direction of where the country is heading.” Asher said it can be off by roughly half a percentage point or more on occasion.
“It gives a ballpark estimate,” he said during a phone call. “Big city data suggests a relatively large drop is coming when the full year data is released in September. It’s not groundbreaking and it’s nothing we wouldn’t have expected.”
“The [data suggests] major rises of murder in 2015 and 2016 have stopped,” Asher noted, clarifying that this does not mean rises in murders are likely to stop forever.
“We’re in for one of the biggest falls this year,” he said. “It’s good to have that confirmation early–in February. It certainly looks like murder is falling; two straight years of murder dropping is a positive.”
Aside from murder, intentional fires decreased by just over nine percent compared to the previous year. Property crimes decreased by just over seven percent. Motor vehicle thefts decreased by over three percent. General theft–or larceny as law enforcement calls it–decreased by over seven percent.
Aggravated assault also declined; but barely–notching a fairly minor dwindling of exactly two percent.
Violent crimes, in general, decreased by over four percent. Rape, according to the FBI, increased by just over half a percentage point.
[image via Scott Olson/Getty Images]