Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School
by Ames C. Grawert, Adureh Onyekwere, and Cameron Kimble
This report analyzes available crime data from police departments in the 30 largest U.S. cities.* It finds that across the cities where data is available, the overall murder and crime rates are projected to decline in 2018, continuing similar decreases from the previous year. This report is based on preliminary data and is intended to provide an early snapshot of crime in 2018 in the 30 largest cities. This data will be updated in later reports.
Declines in homicide rates appear especially pronounced in cities that saw the most significant spikes during 2015 and 2016. These findings directly undercut claims that American cities are experiencing a crime wave. Instead, they suggest that increases in the murder rate in 2015 and 2016 were temporary, rather than signaling a reversal in the long-term downward trend.
This report’s main findings are explained below and detailed in Figure 1, and Tables 1 and 2:
- Murder: The 2018 murder rate in these cities is projected to be 6 percent lower than last year. This estimate is based on data from 29 of the nation’s 30 largest cities. This murder rate is expected to be approximately equal to 2015’s rate, near the bottom of the historic post-1990 decline.1 Especially sharp declines appear in San Francisco (-35.0 percent), Chicago (-23.2 percent), and Baltimore (-20.9 percent). These estimates are based on preliminary data, but if they hold, the number of murders in Chicago could fall by year’s end to the lowest since 2015. In Baltimore, homicides could drop to the lowest since 2014. While the city’s murder rate remains high, this would mark a significant reversal of the past two years’ increases.