Today, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its 2019 edition of Crime in the United States, which showed that violent crime decreased nationwide for the third consecutive year. After decreases in both 2017 and 2018, the violent crime rate dropped an additional one percent this past year and the property crime rate decreased 4.5 percent.
Since 1930, the FBI has tracked nationwide data on crimes and publishes its compilation each year. Submitting data to the FBI is a collective effort on the part of city, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies to present a nationwide view of crime.
“For the last three years the Department of Justice has worked tirelessly with our federal, state, local, and tribal partners to pursue those violent criminals, cartels, and gangs who seek to harm our communities,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen. “We are steadfast in our commitment to protect the public safety of citizens and communities across the United States through violent crime initiatives like Project Safe Neighborhoods, Project Guardian and, most recently, Operation Legend. Violent crime rates had been increasing during 2015-2016, so I am proud of the hard work by all prosecutors and law enforcement agents across the nation who have reduced violent crime rates during each of the last three years. I look forward to continuing our joint efforts to protect the American public from the violence of criminals.”
“I am encouraged by the great work being done by law enforcement to combat violent crime across the nation,” said FBI Deputy Director Dave Bowdich. “The FBI continues to make clear that violence will not be tolerated, and we are committed to continuing our work with state, local, and tribal partners across the country to confront and deter violence, dismantle criminal organizations and gangs, eradicate drug trafficking, and bring justice to victims.”
This past year, a total of 16,554 law enforcement agencies reported Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data to the FBI. In 2019, there were an estimated 1,203,808 violent crimes and an estimated violent crime rate of 366.7 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants. This represented a one percent decrease from the prior year. The FBI’s UCR data indicates that the violent crime rate dropped 0.7 percent in 2017 and 3.5 percent in 2018 from the prior years.
In October 2017, the Department of Justice reinvigorated Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a crime reduction initiative targeting gun and gang violence in particular geographic hotspots. Each United States Attorney around the nation, in conjunction with state and local law enforcement, developed a customized strategy to prioritize prosecutions of the most violent criminals in the most dangerous areas in their district and to support locally based prevention and reentry programs to prevent additional violence. Independent academic research found that PSN successfully reduced violent crime by an average of 4 to 20 percent, and as high as 42 percent in some locations.
In November 2019, the Department launched Project Guardian, a comprehensive law enforcement strategy specifically aimed at gun crime. United States Attorney’s Offices, coordinating with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and state and local law enforcement, developed a strategy for coordinating prosecution, enforcing background checks, improving information sharing, coordinating response to mental health denials, and coordinating on crime gun intelligence.
Through violent crime initiatives, the Department charged the largest number of violent crime defendants since the Department began tracking this category more than 25 years ago. The Department has also increased federal firearm prosecutions by 43 percent in the last three years.
While the downward trends of the past three years are encouraging, the Department remains steadfast in its efforts. On Sept. 15, 2020, the FBI published its Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, January–June, 2020, which revealed overall declines in the number of violent crimes and property crimes reported for the first six months of 2020 when compared with figures for the first six months of 2019. While there were significant decreases in the number of rapes and robberies, there was a significant spike in murders and an increase in aggravated assaults.
The report is based on information from 12,206 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six months of comparable data for both years.
The Department continues to closely monitor violent crime nationally and in July 2020, launched Operation Legend in Kansas City, Missouri, as a sustained, systematic, and coordinated law enforcement initiative where federal law enforcement agencies partner with state and local law enforcement to fight violent crime. It has now expanded to Chicago, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, and Indianapolis.
Since Operation Legend’s launch, approximately 3,500 arrests have been made – including approximately 200 arrests for homicide. Defendants have been charged in state and local courts, and approximately 815 of those 3,500 defendants have been charged with federal crimes. Together, the FBI, ATF, DEA, U.S. Marshals Service, and state and local law enforcement have seized over 1,200 firearms and weapons, nearly 19 kilos of heroin, over 11 kilos of fentanyl (enough to deliver more than five million fatal doses), over 94 kilos of methamphetamine, nearly 14 kilos of cocaine, and more than $6.5 million in drug proceeds. For more information on the successes of Operation Legend, please visit the Department of Justice’s website.