Crime in Context: Violent Crime is up in some Places, but is it really a Trend?
"Is crime in America rising or falling? The answer is not nearly as simple
as politicians sometimes make it out to be, because of how the FBI
collects and handles crime data from the country’s more than 18,000
police agencies. Those local reports are voluntary and sometimes
inconsistent. And the bureau takes months or years to crunch the
numbers, so the national data lags behind the current state of crime.
To present a fuller picture of crime in America, The Marshall Project
collected and analyzed 40 years of FBI data — through 2014 — on the most
serious violent crimes in 68 police jurisdictions. [It] also obtained
data directly from 61 local agencies for 2015 — a period for which the
FBI has not yet released its numbers. (Our analysis found that violent
crime in these jurisdictions rose 4 percent last year. But crime experts
caution against making too much of year-over-year statistics.)
In the process, [The Marshall Project was] struck by the wide variation from community to
community. To paraphrase an aphorism about politics, all crime is local.
Each city has its own trends that depend on the characteristics of the
city itself, the time frame, and the type of crime. In fact, the trends
vary from neighborhood to neighborhood within cities; a recent study
posited that 5 percent of city blocks account for 50 percent of the
crime. That is why most Americans believe crime is worse, while
significantly fewer believe it is worse where they live."