Decoding U.S. Crime Rates

Nationally, crime plays a major role in US news. Whether someone is watching their favorite news channel on television, or reading an article on their phone, some infraction of the law is bound to appear. Despite this abundance, many don’t take the time to do further research of certain logistics that may be given by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), or any other trustworthy source.

Doing so shows the trends of crimes over the years, giving intel to various things such as what types of crimes have occurred, where they were located and more.

Data given by the FBI, however, fails to include crime statistics for 2021 due to the incorporation of the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), and the subsequent lack of reports from numerous locations. Even though they announced the shift in previous years, Jan. 1, 2021 was the first time the FBI required crime data to be reported through NIBRS.

Previously, the Summary Reporting System (SRS) was used to report crime throughout the US, however NIBRS covers a broader range of, and collects more information about, the crime being committed. A deficit of data occurred in 2021 because many places failed to swiftly switch between systems.

Regardless, the data trends collected by the FBI are mainly categorized into violent crimes, which consist of homicide, rape, aggravated assaults and robbery, as well as property crimes, such as arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft and larceny-theft.

Crime rates in the US have, generally, been declining since the 1990s. The rate of violent crimes per 100,000 people in 1991 to 2020 went from 758.2 to 398.5. Property crimes from the same time period decreased from 5,140.2 to 1,958.2. In more recent years, violent crime rates have been rising and falling, with the latest increase (380.8 to 398.5) occurring from 2019 to 2020.

The states that make up the US, however, have crime rates that can greatly differ, depending on the location. States with some of the highest violent crime rates are the District of Columbia, Alaska, New Mexico, and Tennessee. Some of the lowest violent crime rates exist within the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Connecticut.

Florida’s crime rate has also decreased over the years. During the years of 2011 to 2020, its violent crime rate went from 514.6 to 383.6, and its property crime rate from 3517.4 to 1769.4.

Although the US is still far from achieving what would be considered a low crime rate, it has, for the most part, seen a decline in crime over the years.