Violent crime is down in U.S. cities but still above pre-pandemic levels, report says

Federal data remains incomplete after the government switched to a new reporting system during the pandemic.

by Alicia Victoria Lozano
NBC News
July 20, 2023

Violent crime in the first half of the year is down in 37 cities across the U.S. but remains above pre-pandemic levels, according to a report released Thursday by the Council on Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan research group.

The report comes after elected leaders in some cities, like San Francisco and Chicago, were ousted over perceived crime spikes, with critics saying those cities had become dangerous and unlivable.

While violent crime remains above 2019 levels, the report paints a different picture for urban centers, which are experiencing declines in most crimes since the pandemic upended life for millions of people.

While the Council on Criminal Justice’s findings paint an encouraging picture for the country, the director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College in New York cautioned against reading too much into them. “You can learn something by looking at city-specific trends, but don’t rush to broad conclusions based on an incomplete sample,” Jeffrey Butts said. Evaluating national crime numbers has always been a challenge for researchers because jurisdictions do not report and collect data uniformly. Some communities, especially those of color, are also weary of police departments and sometimes hesitate to report crime.

Complicating matters, without at least a decade’s worth of complete data from every city and state, it is nearly impossible to paint a complete picture, Butts said, adding that small samples can be easily manipulated to fit just about any narrative or political agenda. “We all react to crime partly intellectually, partly emotionally and partly politically,” he said. “Everyone uses the crime issue for their own needs.”

[ read the article at NBC News ]

New York City police respond after gunfire in the Bronx on July 1. Steve Sanchez / Sipa USA via AP