The Corner

Law & the Courts

Homicide Rate Up in 16 of the Nation’s 20 Largest Cities

Back during the campaign, Donald Trump periodically made broad statements about rising crime rates that the media’s self-appointed “fact-checkers” declared to be nonsense.

In June, when Trump said, “crime is rising, people are scared,” PolitiFact gave it their dreaded “Pants on Fire” rating. They did it again in August when he said “inner-city crime is reaching record levels.” CNN hit him in September when he said,“Last year we saw a 17 percent increase in violent crime in our 50 largest cities.”

In the June fact check, University of Maryland criminologist Raymond Paternoster offered a caveat that should have mitigated that “pants on fire” rating: “Mr. Trump is wrong if he is talking about overall crime and even violent crime. Any possible upward swing in the past year or so wouldn’t show up in the data currently available.”

New data is now available. This morning the Wall Street Journal tallies the numbers and finds that homicides are up in quite a few of the largest cities.

Sixteen of the 20 largest police departments reported a year-over-year rise in homicides as of mid-December, a Wall Street Journal survey found. Some notched minor increases, while Chicago has experienced one of the most dramatic jumps, with more than 720 murders—up 56% from 2015…

Nationally, 37 of the 65 largest police agencies, including ones in San Antonio, Las Vegas and Memphis, Tenn., reported year-over-year homicide increases as of Sept. 30, the Major Cities Chiefs Association said. In 2015, 44 departments reported increases, many for the first time in years.

In the public’s mind, the distinctions between all crime, violent crime, and murders aren’t as clear as in the police reports. One of the reasons most the public accepted Trump’s assertion was because it felt right when they looked at the coverage of violent crimes, particularly murders, around them. Trump may be verbally imprecise, but his assertion reflected the perception of many Americans, who felt their communities or the nearest cities were experiencing more fatal shootings and drug-related violence.

According to DNA info, Chicago is up to 726 murders in 2016, with nine days left in the year.