Murder rates surged nearly 15 percent nationwide in the first half of 2020 while overall violent crime fell by almost half a percent, a new FBI report has revealed.
The FBI released its Preliminary Uniform Crime Report for January through June of this year on Tuesday, which showed how crime rates have changed around the US amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The national murder rate increased 14.8 percent in the first six months of 2020 compared with the year before. The largest increase of 26 percent was seen in cities with a population of 250,000 to 500,000 people.
Arson rates also increased by 19.2 percent nationwide, with a 52.1 percent spike in cities with more than one million residents.
Meanwhile rates for violent crimes including assault, rape and robbery declined by 0.4 percent, and property crime fell 7.8 percent.
Murder rates surged by 14.8 percent nationwide in the first half of 2020 while overall violent crime fell by 0.4 percent compared with the same period in 2019, a new FBI report found
The graphic above shows how rates for different types of crimes changed between the first quarter of this year (January 1 through March 31 – left side) and the second quarter (April 1 to June 30 – right side). The percentages are based on the change from the same period in 2019
The largest decrease in violent crime was seen in the Northeast, where rates dropped by five percent. The South was the only region where violent crime increased, by 2.5 percent.
Within that category, incidents of rapes fell by 18 percent nationwide, robberies fell by 7.1 percent and aggravated assaults rose 4.6 percent.
For property crimes, the largest decrease was seen in the Midwest with 10.3 percent, while the West saw the smallest decrease of 5.3 percent.
Across the board larcenies fell 9.9 percent and burglaries fell 7.8 percent while motor vehicle thefts increased 6.2 percent.
The Midwest saw the highest increase in murder rate with 21.1 percent (red – center)
Cities with 250,000 to 500,000 people (red – third left) saw the largest spike in murder rate at 25.9 percent, while the rate rose by just 2.5 percent in nonmetropolitan counties (blue – right)
Violent crime rates nationwide (dark red – left)) fell by 0.4 percent in the first half of 2020. The largest decrease was seen in the Northeast (dark blue), where rates dropped by five percent. The South (light blue) was the only region where violent crime increased, by 2.5 percent
Cities with more than one million people (dark red – left) saw a 2.3 percent increase in violent crimes while rates dropped by 7.2 percent in cities with 25,000 to 50,000 people (light blue)
The FBI report was compiled using data provided by law enforcement agencies around the country.
A footnote in the report cautions against using the statistics to draw conclusions about specific geographic areas because it does not take into account ‘the numerous variables that shape crime in a given state, county, city, town, tribal area or region’.
FBI analysts did not offer any explanation for the drop in overall crime or the spikes in murders and arsons.
In response to other reports that have shown similar findings over the past few months, experts have attributed a drop in overall crime to widespread lockdowns implemented when the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
On the flip side, some experts have suggested that rising murder rates have been fueled by the pandemic destabilizing community institutions.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore on Tuesday blamed the pandemic for an increase in gun violence and murders in the city – saying that the crisis created widespread economic instability while undercutting law enforcement efforts to prevent crimes.
‘What we’re sensing is a lot of stress, a lot of communities that are on edge, a certain amount of depression,’ Moore said at a meeting of the civilian Police Commission.
He added that neighborhoods have become a ‘fertile bed for some type of spontaneous violence’ as coronavirus-related business restrictions have shifted nighttime gatherings from bars and clubs to people’s homes.
President Donald Trump is likely to seize on the less flattering findings of the FBI report as he continues to put his promise to enforce ‘law and order’ at the center of his re-election campaign.
Trump has repeatedly blamed the rising homicide rates on ‘anarchists and agitators’ in Black Lives Matter protests that have roiled the country for the past three and a half months as he accuses officials in Democrat-led cities of spiraling out of control.
The president has insisted that he is the only candidate who can fix the turmoil, charging that his rival Joe Biden will only make things worse by bowing to ‘the mob’.