The following article by Tom Jackman was posted on the Washington Post website February 7, 2017:
President Trump falsely claimed that “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years,” during a meeting with county sheriffs on Feb. 7 at the White House. (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
President Trump met Tuesday morning with a group of sheriffs from the National Sheriffs Association, a group that consists of more than 3,000 sheriffs from around the country. And to this sworn group of law enforcement veterans, with reporters taking notes, he again repeated a falsehood about the murder rate in America.
Trump told the sheriffs, “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” He blamed the news media for not publicizing this development, then added, “But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, 45 to 47 years.”
The country’s murder rate is not the highest it’s been in 47 years. It is almost at its lowest point, actually, according to the FBI, which gathers statistics every year from police departments around the country.
The murder rate is defined as the number of murders and non-negligent homicides per 100,000 residents. Beginning in 1957, when the rate was 4.0 murders per 100,000 residents, the rate rose steadily to a high of 10.2 in 1980. It then steadily dropped, to 7.4 in 1996, to 6.1 in 2006, to 4.4 in 2014. It went up in 2015 to 4.9. But that is less than half the murder rate of 1980, while the population has risen from 226 million in 1980 to 321 million in 2015.
The violent crime rate in America also has plummeted over the years. Defined as including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, violent crimes peaked at a rate of 758 per 100,000 residents in 1991, and the rate was about 373 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2015, again a decline of more than half.
The statistics for 2016 are not yet available.