It’s official: Murder rose across the U.S. last year at the fastest pace since 1990, according to data released by the FBI on Monday. There were an estimated 15,696 murders1 in 2015, 1,532 more than in 2014 and the most recorded in a calendar year since 2008.
The increase isn’t a surprise; other reports, based on partial data, have shown the same trend. But Monday’s report provides the first reliable, nationwide figures on an issue that has emerged as a major topic in this year’s presidential campaign. Donald Trump has cited rising murder rates in major U.S. cities as evidence that criminal-justice reform efforts, such as the pullback of “stop and frisk” policing in New York and other cities, are failing.
“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement,” Trump said in his speech at the Republican Convention in July.
But while Monday’s report confirms the increase in murder, it doesn’t support Trump’s larger claim. The rate of other forms of crime, including violent crime, remained near the historic lows achieved in 2013. The overall violent crime rate — which includes assault, robbery and rape in addition to murder — rose 3 percent. The rate of nonviolent property crimes fell 3.4 percent.
The new data, part of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report program, is based on voluntary reports from nearly 18,000 police departments and other law-enforcement agencies nationwide. In addition to crime rates for certain major crime types, the annual “Crime in the U.S.” report provides data on arrests, clearance rates (the share of crimes that are solved) and police staffing. The report showed that police departments in cities shrank slightly in 2015 despite efforts by departments …