FBI’s latest data show ‘historic’ drop in crime: Garland

FBI’s latest data show ‘historic’ drop in crime: Garland
Aaron Schwartz/Xinhua via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — The first three months of 2024 saw a continued drop in levels of violent crime and murder across the country, according to data released by the FBI on Monday — a trend that Attorney General Merrick Garland called “historic.”

Reported incidents of violent crime dropped 15% between January and March of this year compared to the same period last year, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Data.

Murders dropped by more than 26% in the same time period, the data show.

The FBI has not released details about the number of incidents for the categories of crime. It will do so when 80% participation levels are met, the agency said.

“This data makes clear that last year’s historic decline in violent crime is continuing,” Garland said in a statement highlighting the new statistics.

“This continued historic decline in homicides does not represent abstract statistics. It represents people whose lives were saved — people who are still here to see their children grow up, to work toward fulfilling their dreams, and to contribute to their communities.”

Crime is a key issue for voters in an election year, and President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are working to highlight their crime-reduction plans in what is expected to be a very close race this November.

“President Biden has worked hard to clean up [Trump’s] mess, and it’s working,” Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa said in a statement, referencing the new FBI data.

As president, Biden has backed community policing and violence intervention efforts and called for more mental and social services funding. In his State of the Union address earlier this year, Biden boasted that the nation reported a historically low murder rate in 2023 and violent crime had plummeted to one of the lowest levels in 50 years.

Trump is touting the role he played in enacting the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform law that reduced some mandatory minimum prison sentences, gave judges the power to sentence nonviolent drug offenders to less time behind bars and more, such as increasing job training to lower recidivism rates. Last month, Trump became the first U.S. president ever convicted of a felony.

The number released Monday further build off data released earlier this year by the FBI, which showed murders dropped nationwide by 13% through 2023. That data also showed cities with populations of more than 1 million saw an 11% drop in overall crime.

Experts told ABC News late that year that the recent drop in homicides and other violent crimes can be attributed to expanded efforts to prevent crime, including working with community volunteers, targeting gun possession in high-crime areas and placing officers on foot and bike patrols.

Still, perception of crime often does not match up with the numbers. More than three-quarters of Americans said that there is more crime in the U.S. than a year ago and more than half of Americans said the same about crime in their local area, according to a Gallup poll from November.

The data from the FBI also show that reported incidents of rape dropped by 25% from last year, robbery dropped by more than 17%, and aggravated assault fell by more than 12%. Property crime similarly dropped by more than 15%, according to the data.

Some crime data experts have cautioned not to rely too much on the FBI’s numbers, noting their largely preliminary nature that only covers roughly 77% of the nation’s total population — even if their broader assessment of decreasing crime across the country rings true.

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