ST. LOUIS — Violent crime in the United States declined last year – falling to roughly the same level as before the COVID-19 pandemic began – but property crime increased significantly, according to data from the FBI’s annual crime report released Monday.
The report comes with an asterisk: Some law enforcement agencies did not provide data. But a change in collection methods in compiling the 2022 numbers helped, and the FBI said the new data represents 83.3% of all agencies covering 93.5% of the population. In contrast, last year’s numbers came from just 62.7% of agencies, or 64.8% of Americans.
Violent crime fell 1.7%, and that included a 6.1% decrease in murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Rapes decreased by 5.4% and aggravated assaults by 1.1%, but robberies increased by 1.3%. Violent crime also declined slightly in 2021, a significant turnaround from 2020, when the U.S. murder rate jumped 29% during the pandemic, creating enormous social disruption and upending justice systems. support.
The violent crime rate of 380.7 per 100,000 people was much better than in 2019 – the year before the pandemic hit the United States, when the rate was 380.8 per 100,000 people.
Richard Rosenfeld, professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said the decline in violence can be largely attributed to the fact that the “stresses and strains” associated with the pandemic have eased.
“Overall, what we’re seeing is just a return to something approaching normal after the big changes associated with the pandemic,” Rosenfeld said.
Despite the decrease in violence, property crimes jumped 7.1%, with motor vehicle thefts showing the largest increase at 10.9%. The FBI said carjackings increased 8.1% compared to 2021 and the vast majority of carjackings involve an armed attacker. A person was injured in more than a quarter of all carjackings.
Rachael Eisenberg, managing director for rights and justice at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for American Progress, said that while the FBI report looks at 2022 data, more recent statistics indicate the decline in violent crime will continue. This year.
In fact, the FBI’s findings are consistent with a report released in July by the nonpartisan think tank Council on Criminal Justice. This report, using data from 37 cities studied, finds that murders fell 9.4% in the first half of 2023 compared to the first half of 2022, but vehicle thefts increased by 33.5%.
Last year’s FBI report came with significant caveats since nearly two-fifths of all police agencies did not participate, including major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami. This followed a major overhaul of the reporting system.
For this year’s report, the FBI used data voluntarily collected from agencies using the new National Incident-Based Reporting System, but also included data from agencies still using an older system, known as the summary reporting system name. This partly explains the huge increase in the number of participating agencies.
The overhaul will eventually make crime data more modern and detailed, federal officials said, but the switchover may be complicated for police departments. Although the increase in participation in 2022 is due in part to the inclusion of Summary Reporting System data, the FBI noted that 1,499 additional agencies submitted data through NIBRS.
This year’s report shows that while the number of adult victims of fatal gun violence decreased by 6.6%, the estimated number of juvenile victims increased by 11.8%. Gun safety advocates decry the relaxation of gun laws, particularly in conservative-leaning states across the United States.
Assaults against law enforcement officers increased 1.8% compared to 2021. An estimated 31,400 of 102,100 assaults resulted in injuries in 2022, an increase of 1.7% compared to the previous year.
Overall, violent crime remains well below the historic highs of the 1990s.
Even though the direct impact has subsided, Rosenfeld said the pandemic could still indirectly lead to an increase in crime. The pandemic has prompted many companies to allow their employees to work from home some or all of the time. The city’s desolate streets make crime more likely.
“The more people there are on the street, the harder it is for someone to commit a crime because there are so many eyes on the street,” Rosenfeld said.