- The Brennan Center for Justice released a preliminary analysis of how crime rates are trending in the 30 largest U.S. cities so far in 2018. It projects that murder and overall violent crime rates will drop this year, continuing last year's trend.
- Murder rates this year are expected to be 7.6% lower than last year, and the overall crime rate is projected to be 2.9% lower. If the projected number holds, the 30 cities will experience their lowest overall crime rates since at least 1990.
- The preliminary analysis is based on crime data from the cities' police departments. Murder rate data was available for 29 of the 30 cities, and overall crime data was only available from 19 of the 30. Brennan's final report with full data will come out at the end of the year.
Brennan researchers note data from the past two years counter some claims, often from politicians, that big cities are experiencing a rash of crime. Instead, they suggest these people are only citing data from 2015 and 2016 when crime rates did experience an uptick, despite a somewhat steady downward trend since the 1990s.
"These findings directly undercut [those] claims. ... 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," the report reads.
Murder rate declines thus far in 2018 have been most pronounced in cities that saw the greatest spikes in 2015 and 2016. San Francisco (35%), Chicago (23.2%) and Baltimore (20.9%) experienced particularly notable declines.
Despite the projected drop for the cities' collective murder rate, there are a few outliers. Washington, DC is projected to end this year with a 34.9% higher murder rate than last year. Austin, TX is expected to show a 30% increase in its murder rate, although researchers note that so few murders occur in Austin that any increase appears more significant than in other locations.
Researchers believe it might be possible to extrapolate the data from America's 30 largest cities to that of the country as a whole. "The 29 cities included in the major-city murder rate are home to more than 40 million people, or more than 12% of the population. While it is too early to say for sure, declines in major cities could signal a reversal of the previous two years’ increases in the national homicide rate," the report says.