Per the FBI, violent crime was flat for the first six months of 2020 (decreased 0.4 percent). The number of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased 14.8%, and aggravated assault offenses were up 4.6%.
The first six months of 2020 included the Coronavirus lockdowns which began in March and lasted for up to four months for some states. Multiple reports at the time indicated decreases in violent crime in most (not all) cities during the lockdowns.
How multiple reports of decreasing violent crime during the lockdowns could turn into violent crime being flat for the country for the first six months of 2020 is bewildering.
Increasing aggravated assaults constitute 67 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement, and increasing murder accounts for another 1.4 percent. However, the FBI’s preliminary report “reveals overall declines in the number of violent and property crimes.”
Only 41 percent of violent victimizations were reported to law enforcement, down from 43 percent the previous year.
Additional reports on violent crime are offered.
Notes from the FBI via email are offered.
Readers are asking for violent crime data for 2020.
My last article focused on the National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice for 2019 stating that violent crime (excluding simple assaults) decreased.
Including simple assaults, violent crime was flat.
The FBI’s new Preliminary Uniform Crime Report, January–June 2020, is based on information from 12,206 law enforcement agencies that submitted three to six months of comparable data for both years, FBI-Preliminary Report.
The preliminary data is missing for some police agencies. In 2018, for the last full crime report as of this writing, FBI crime statistics for the nation were based on data received from 16,609 of 18,815 law enforcement agencies in the country.
Violent crime is composed of four offenses: homicide (murder and nonnegligent manslaughter), rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes involve force or threat of force.
FBI Violent Crime Data-2020
Overall violent crime decreased 0.4 percent for the first six months of 2020.
But the number of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased 14.8%, and aggravated assault offenses were up 4.6%.
When data from the first six months of 2020 were compared with data from the first six months of 2019, the number of rape offenses decreased by 17.8%, and robbery offenses were down 7.1%.
Source FBI-Preliminary Report.
Impact Of the COVID Lockdowns
During the 2020 Coronavirus lockdowns that lasted in some states for up to four months during the first six months of 2020, Wikipedia, and continue today in multiple forms (i.e., closing of bars and restaurants), many (most?) jurisdictions reported decreases in violent crime, Crime During The Lockdowns.
How multiple reports of decreasing violent crime occurring for months in large cities during the lockdowns could turn into violent crime being flat for the country for the first six months of 2020 is perplexing. Yes, there were increases in violence after the lockdowns and protests.
The fact that homicides and aggravated assaults increased during this time period per the FBI is also surprising. If January and February are traditionally lower crime months, and if the lockdowns lasted from March to June for many states, you would expect overall decreases.
But the lifting of COVID lockdowns and thousands of protests seemed to be the beginning of considerable increases in violence for many cities. The University of Missouri measuring crime in May and June of 2020 (post lockdowns) show considerable increases in homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies (link below).
Two-Thirds of Violent Crime Include Aggravated Assaults And Homicides
Per the FBI’s full crime report for 2018 (last full crime report as of this writing), aggravated assaults accounted for 66.9 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement. Robbery offenses accounted for 23.4 percent of violent crime offenses; rape (legacy definition) accounted for 8.4 percent, and murder accounted for 1.4 percent, FBI-2018.
If aggravated assaults constitute 67 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement, and murder accounts for another 1.4 percent, more than two-thirds of counted violent crime and two of the four categories of violence increased during the first six months of 2020. The FBI preliminary report, “reveals overall declines in the number of violent crimes and property crimes.”
Per an email from the FBI on September 17,
“Violent crime includes the offenses of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crime decreased -0.4 percent when compared to the same time last year. Murder and aggravated assault increased 14.8 percent and 4.6 percent respectively. Rape decreased 17.8 percent and Robbery decreased 7.1 percent. Although murder shows a large increase, it makes up slightly more than one percent of the violent crime total (1.4 percent). The decreases in rape and robbery were significant enough to offset the increase in murder and aggravated assault.”
See Violent Crime-Crime in America for sources.
Two Federal Sources For Violent Crime
There are two federal sources on violent and property crime in the United States from the US Department of Justice, the National Crime Victimization Survey (referred to here as the National Crime Survey) from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the Uniform Crime Reports from the FBI.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects data via the National Crime Victimization Survey using a methodology similar to the US Census. It offers data on reported and unreported crime and is important because most crime is not reported to law enforcement agencies. Forty-one percent of violent crime is reported to law enforcement.
The FBI collects crimes reported to law enforcement.
FBI-Previous Violence Numbers
We have a report from the FBI for the six months of 2019. We do not have the full report for 2019.
Per crimes reported to the FBI, violent crime increased in 2015 and 2016 but decreased slightly in 2017 (violence was essentially flat). In 2018 there was a decrease of 3.3 percent. It decreased again by 3.1 percent for the first half of 2019.
Bureau of Justice Statistics-National Crime Victimization Survey-Summary
Per a press release (from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “After rising from 1.1 million in 2015 to 1.4 million in 2018, the number of persons who were victims of violent crime excluding simple assault dropped to 1.2 million in 2019.”
The rate of violent crime excluding simple assault declined 15% from 2018 to 2019, from 8.6 to 7.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older.
No Decrease In Violence If You Include Simple Assaults
Per the full report (not the press release): From 2018 to 2019, there was no statistically significant change in the rate of total violent victimization, which includes simple assault. Based on the 2019 survey, about 65% of total violent victimizations were simple assault, with the remaining 35% being rape or sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated assault.
There were no statistically significant changes in the rates of robbery, aggravated assault, or simple assault from 2018 to 2019, National Crime Survey.
Violent Crime Reported To Law Enforcement
Based on the 2019 National Crime Survey, less than half (41%) of violent victimizations were reported to the police. It decreased from 43 percent in 2018, thus the reason for the National Crime Survey.
Links To National Crime Survey and FBI Reports
Links to National Crime Victimization Survey and FBI full reports are available at US Crime Rates.
Related Data-Per Gallup-Violence Tripled
Per Gallup, “Each year since 2017, 15% of U.S. adults have indicated they were victimized by crime in the past year. A subset of that, between 1% and 3%, have reported being the victim of a violent crime.” One percent of Americans were victimized by violent crime in 2016. That tripled to three percent in 2019.
2019 is the first year where violent crime reached three percent, Gallup.
Two Additional National Reports on Violence
We have a report from the Major Cities Chiefs Association documenting a rise in homicides and reported aggravated assaults for 2019, Major Cities Chiefs.
There is a study from the University of Missouri measuring crime in May and June of 2020 (post lockdowns) indicating that homicides were up 37 percent, aggravated assaults rose 35 percent, and robberies increased by 27 percent, The Crime Report.
Yes, all of this is confusing.
Reported Crime-FBI-Murder and aggravated assaults increased for the first six months of 2020. Murder and aggravated assaults consist of more than two-thirds of violent crime counted by the FBI. Overall violent crime was flat, a 0.4 percent decrease.
All Crime-Per the National Crime Victimization Survey, the rate of violent crime excluding simple assault declined 15% from 2018 to 2019, from 8.6 to 7.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older.
If you include simple assaults ( 65% of total violent victimizations) there was no decrease in violent crime.
Additional Reports-Violent crime tripled per Gallup. The Major Cities Chiefs Association reports increases in homicides and reported aggravated assaults for 2019. The University of Missouri measuring crime in May and June of 2020 (post lockdowns) indicated significant increases in homicides, aggravated assaults, and robberies.
Future-After looking at all the available data, it’s probable that we will see additional increases in violent crime in 2020 despite the reported decreases in violence for many (not all) cities during the Coronavirus lockdowns. How one counts violent crime during riots and disturbances will be an immense if not impossible challenge. The National Crime Survey states that they are taking steps to address this.
We are waiting for the FBI’s full crime report from 2019.
See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.
Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.
US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.
National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.
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Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Aspiring drummer.