Although crime rates have decreased over last two years, 77 percent of Americans falsely believe that crimes have increased.
Crime continues to plague communities and cities, as always.
However, crime might not present the problem that some in media and politics attempt to portray.
Data from the FBI shows that crime dramatically decreased over the past year despite many Americans believing that crime has increased.
Ken Dilanian of NBC News reported, “A Gallup poll released this month found that 77% of Americans believe crime rates worsening, but they are mistaken, the new FBI data and other statistics show.
“The FBI data, which compares crime rates in the third quarter of 2023 to the same period last year, found that violent crime dropped 8%, while property crime fell 6.3% to what would be the lowest level since 1961, according to criminologist Jeff Asher, who analyzed the FBI numbers.”
Dilanian added, “Murder plummeted in the United States in 2023 at one of the fastest rates of decline ever recorded, Asher found, and every category of major crime except auto theft declined.
“Yet 92% of Republicans, 78% of independents and 58% of Democrats believe crime is rising, the Gallup survey shows.”
The issue of crime will be a key issue heading into the 2024 election for many Americans.
Many on the left blame right-wing media for playing on stereotypes, bigotry and fears to create the narrative that crime continues to rise when the numbers show the opposite happening.
Asher said, “I think we’ve been conditioned, and we have no way of countering the idea [that crime is rising]. It’s just an overwhelming number of news media stories and viral videos—I have to believe that social media is playing a role.”
The decline in crime started showing up in 2022 too.
In 2022, violent crime fell back to the numbers before the COVID-19 pandemic with murder decreasing 6.1 percent.
In big cities, Asher discovered that murder fell 12.7 percent this year after increasing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Detroit is on pace to have the lowest murder rate since 1966.
Additionally, cities like Baltimore and St. Louis are on pace to have their lowest murder rates in a decade.
However, cities like Memphis and Washington, D.C. have seen an increase in homicide.
But Asher labels cities with increased murder rates as outliers.
Dilanian added, “FBI data doesn’t have a separate category for retail theft. It falls under ‘larceny,’ which declined overall last year, according to the latest numbers. Retail theft is widely believed to have skyrocketed in some cities, and the industry says it is at ‘unprecedented’ levels. But the data doesn’t necessarily support that thesis.
“FBI numbers are not the only measure of crime. The annual Justice Department survey of criminal victimization in 2022 found that a lot of crime goes unreported, and that more people reported being victims of violent crime in 2022 than in 2021. But Asher has documented questions about the survey’s methodology.”
Asher blames partisanship for the disconnect.
However, the media and social media are also to blame he says.
Asher wrote, “My neighbors never post on NextDoor how many thousands of packages they successfully receive. Only video of the one that randomly got swiped.”
Many blame the media because journalists often learn if it bleeds then it leads.
Therefore, violent and criminal behavior often takes precedent over positive stories.
Furthermore, negative posts like flash mobs with people stealing and looting stores often go viral on social media.
Asher wrote, “These outlier incidents become the glue people rely on when guesstimating whether crime is up or down.”
In Houston, the local police department reported that homicides had decreased 22 percent in the first seven months of 2023.
On Aug. 16, Adam Zuvanich of Houston Public Media reported, “There were 201 murders in the city between Jan. 1 and July 31, representing a 22.5% decrease compared to the same period in 2022, when there were 271 homicides. Houston also has experienced decreases in robberies (10.3%), aggravated assaults (8.7%) and human trafficking (7.1%), while there have been increases so far this year in kidnappings (8.9%) and sexual assaults (5.5%).
“Violent crimes were down by 8.5 percent overall during the first seven months of 2023, based on statistics the city reported to the National Incident-Based Reporting Systems (NIBRS). Houston had a total of 14,769 incidents of violent crime, compared to 16,140 during the first seven months of 2022.”
Houston also experienced an eight percent decrease in violent crime from 2021 to 2022, which included a nine percent decrease in murders.
In a news release from August 2023, the Houston Police Department (HPD) said, “As we continue to see positive trends, we still understand more work must be done.”
Houston also saw a 2.2 percent decrease in non-violent crimes.
However, auto thefts have increased by 16.2 percent.
Through January to July 2023, Houston saw 11,893 stolen vehicles as compared to 10,235 from the same period in 2022.
Zuvanich reported, “HPD attributed the reductions to its own work as well as the One Safe Houston initiative, which was launched by Mayor Sylvester Turner in February 2022. Funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, the $73 million effort involves having more officers patrolling the city to increase their visibility and focusing on high-crime areas and specific crime trends.”
Nevertheless, many credit the nationwide trend of decreased crime rates over the last couple of years.
Regardless of the reason for the decrease in crime, both political parties will use crime to attract votes to their ticket, while criticizing their opponents.