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Illustration by Security Management

Violent Crime Decreased in 2019, FBI Reports

Violent crime decreased again in the United States last year, according to the 2019 edition of Crime in the United States released this week by the FBI.

After decreases in 2017 and 2018, the violent crime rate dropped 1 percent and the property crime rate decreased 4.5 percent in 2019. There were an estimated 1,203,808 violent crimes last year, at a rate of 366.7 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants.

The Bureau pulls these statistics together based on law enforcement agencies’ voluntary participation in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, which defines violent crimes as offenses involving use or threat of force along four categories: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

  • Murder: There were approximately 16,425 murders in the United States in 2019, a 0.3 percent increase from the 2018 estimate and an 11.6 percent increase from 2010.
  • Rape: An estimated 139,815 rapes were reported to law enforcement in 2019, a 2.7 percent decrease from the 2018 estimate.
  • Robbery: In 2019, there were an estimated 267,988 reported robberies in the United States, which marks a 4.7 percent decrease from 2018. The average dollar value of property stolen per robbery was $1,797. Banks experienced the highest average dollar loss—$4,213 per offense. All together, the reported robberies accounted for approximately $482 million in losses in 2019.
  • Aggravated assault: There were an estimated 821,182 reported aggravated assaults in the United States last year—a 1.3 percent increase compared to the 2018 estimate. While not all law enforcement agencies provided additional data about the crimes, the FBI estimates that 27.6 percent of assaults were committed with firearms, 17.5 percent with knives or cutting instruments, and 25.2 percent with personal weapons like hands, fists, or feet. Other weapons were used in 29.8 percent of aggravated assaults.

The FBI attributes the continued decline in crime rates to a number of initiatives, including Project Safe Neighborhoods (which targets gun and gang violence in particular geographic hotspots), Project Guardian (cross-department law enforcement strategy aimed at gun crime), and Operation Legend (federal, state, and local partnerships to combat violent crime in select cities). Operation Legend was launched in July 2020, however, so its effects will not be tallied in the Crime in the United States report until next year.

So far, 2020 has seen a continued decline in a number of crime categories. In the second quarter, reports of rape decreased nearly 18 percent, and property crime in general was down nearly 8 percent. Murder spiked almost 15 percent, however, and aggravated assault was up 4.6 percent, according to the Preliminary Quarterly Uniform Crime Report.

A report released earlier this month from the Council on Criminal Justice found that in 20 of 27 cities studied—including Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, and Philadelphia—murders surged throughout June, July, and August 2020 compared to the summer of 2019. The average city homicide rate during the summer of 2020 increased by 52.6 percent compared to 2019, the report said.

Summer also brought a 14-percent increase in aggravated assaults in most of the cities in the report.