A report released this week from the Brennan Center for Justice, which analyzes crime data from the 30 largest US cities, “finds that across the cities where data is available, the overall murder and crime rates are projected to decline in 2018.”
This is of course only a preliminary study and intended to provide “an early snapshot of crime in 2018 in the 30 largest cities.”
The report notes: “Declines in homicide rates appear especially pronounced in cities that saw the most significant spikes during 2015 and 2016. These findings directly undercut claims that American cities are experiencing a crime wave. Instead, they suggest that increases in the murder rate in 2015 and 2016 were temporary, rather than signaling a reversal in the long-term downward trend.”
Based on an estimate from data from 29 of the 30 largest cities, “The 2018 murder rate in these cities is projected to be 7.6 percent lower than last year.”
That puts the murder rate near the 2015 rate, near the bottom of the historic post-1990 decline.
They saw especially sharp declines in: San Francisco (-35.0 percent), Chicago (-23.2 percent), and Baltimore (-20.9 percent).
If the numbers hold, Chicago could reach its lowest level since 2015. In Baltimore, the homicides could drop to their lowest point since 2014. “While the city’s murder rate remains high, this would mark a significant reversal of the past two years’ increases.”
While the overall murder rate is estimated to decline this year in these cities, the study finds that a few cities are projected to experience increases. For example, Washington, D.C.’s murder rate is expected to rise 34.9 percent.
Several cities with relatively low murder rates are also seeing increases, such as Austin (rising by roughly 30 percent). The report cautions, “Since the city has relatively few murders, any increase may appear large in percentage terms.”
The overall crime projections appear a bit more hit and miss. The report warns, “At the time of publication, full crime data — covering all Part I index crimes tracked by the FBI — were only available from 19 of the 30 largest cities.”
In these cities, the overall crime rate for 2018 is projected to decrease by 2.9 percent, essentially holding stable.
The report finds, “If this estimate holds, this group of cities will experience the lowest crime rate this year since at least 1990.”
These findings will be updated with new data when available.
—David M. Greenwald reporting