FBI says crime has plummeted to start 2024 - but is missing a big part of the data

Data informing the FBI’s figures is supplied voluntarily by law enforcement agencies across the US, and do not include major metropolitan areas including Los Angeles and New York, where crime is historically high

Mike Bedigan
Los Angeles
Wednesday 12 June 2024 20:46 BST
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The FBI has released its first quarterly figures of 2024, which it says shows a continuation of a “historic decline” in violent crime from last year - but has ignored a big factor in the data.

The figures from the Quarterly Uniform Crime Report indicate a 15 percent drop in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2023.

Murder decreased by 26.4 percent, rape decreased by 25.7 percent, robbery decreased by 17.8 percent, and aggravated assault decreased by 12.5 percent. Reported property crime also decreased by 15.1 percent, according to the agency.

“This data makes clear that last year’s historic decline in violent crime is continuing,” said Department of Justice Attorney General Merrick B Garland, in a statement released on Monday. “Our work will not be done until all Americans feel safe in their communities.”

However, data informing the FBI’s figures is supplied voluntarily by law enforcement agencies across the US, and do not include major metropolitan areas including Los Angeles and New York, where crime is historically high. The LAPD and NYPD are the two largest police forces in the nation, but they are not included in the FBI data, which could have changed the data if it had been included.

The FBI has released its first quarterly figures of 2024, which it says shows a continuation of a ‘historic decline’ in violent crime from last year
The FBI has released its first quarterly figures of 2024, which it says shows a continuation of a ‘historic decline’ in violent crime from last year (Getty Images)

The FBI data for 2024 has yet to be released beyond a short press announcement abou the total. The data has not been publicly released for specific regions or states in the country. The last publicly available figures are from 2022.

In 2022, about two-thirds of the nation’s 6,000 police agencies report their data to the FBI.

The issue stems from a change in how the FBI asked agencies to submit data in 2021. Many police departments had outdated technology taht couldn’t be changed in time, leading to them falling out of the FBI data, according to the Marshall Project.

That has impacted the data received by the FBI as some of the nations largest agencies, which also includes Phoneix police and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, not being part of the system.

Those agencies typically high numbers of arrests and incidents and when left off can change the percentages nationwide for crime across the US.

In fact, some of the agencies who don’t report noted a lower percentage drop, or even an increase, in crime in their areas.

In March, LA law enforcement announced that violent crime in the city was in fact up 2.9 percent compared to 12 months prior, and robberies had increased almost 10 percent.

During a Board of Police Commissioners meeting, Interim Los Angeles Police Chief Dominic Choi reported an uptick in violent crimes, with 73 homicides so far this year compared to 57 at this point in 2023, an increase of 28 percent, per Fox 11.

In February, the New York City Police Department released separate figures for January 2024, which showed substantial drops in murder, rape, burglary, and felony assault, and an overall crime index drop of 2.9 percent.

The force noted that a major area of increase was in crimes committed on the city’s subway system, which has jumped up by 46 percent. Robbery and grand larceny also increased – up by 5.4 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.

Despite the FBI data showing decreases in all major crimes across the nation, other offenses including hate crime, have been increasing steadily in recent years.

However, several large police agencies such as the New York City police and Los Angeles police do not report to the FBI system. Pictured: A New York City Police Department officer looks on as Trump supporters gather outside of Manhattan Criminal Court
However, several large police agencies such as the New York City police and Los Angeles police do not report to the FBI system. Pictured: A New York City Police Department officer looks on as Trump supporters gather outside of Manhattan Criminal Court (AFP via Getty Images)

A report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino, published in January found that hate crimes across the US increased 11 percent in 2023 from 2022, with antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes also soaring following the outbreak of war in the Middle East.

Titled Faith Under Fire, the report found that the highest areas of increase were New York City and Los Angeles.

In the Big Apple antisemitic hate crimes jumped 12.6 percent and anti-Muslim hate crimes rose 22 percent. In LA, the same crimes rose 48 percent and 40 percent respectively in 2023.

Those numbers have continued to rise in the first month of 2024 as the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force has seen a 12 percent increase in bias crimes, according to police department statistics.

Americans too, tend to feel that despite the official reports that certain crimes continue on a downward trajectory, that crime is up.

In 23 of 27 surveys conducted by Gallup since 1993, at least 60 percent of US adults have said they believe there is more crime nationally than there was the year before. In 2022 and 2023 this percentage was almost 80 percent.

The five most dangerous states in the US are currently; New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Colorado and California, according to a March 2024 article by Forbes, which analyzed data from previous years.

“We know there is so much more work to do, and that the progress we have seen can still easily slip away,” Garland on Monday.

“We will continue to invest in the essential programs that allow police departments to hire more officers. We will continue to build the public trust essential for public safety. And we will continue to support the evidence-based community violence intervention initiatives that save lives.”

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