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Take Donald Trump’s Crime Statistics With A Grain Of Salt

Little white lies go a long way in politics

On Thursday evening, Donald Trump took to the Republican National Convention stage to accept the Republican party’s nomination for president.


During his speech, Trump discussed foreign policy, Hillary Clinton’s emails, the unemployment rate in the United States, and of course, the great wall he plans to build. While we have yet to fact check the entire speech, we can quickly debunk one major theme: crime is not on a meteoric rise in America.

In his speech, Trump claims:

“Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this Administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement. Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s fifty largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore. In the President’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone. And more than 3,600 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office. The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 percent compared to this point last year. Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.”

Let’s break it down.

With his first statistic, Trump claims, “Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s fifty largest cities.” It appears the FBI would disagree, as its own data shows violent crime has been in a steady decline for the last 20 years.

According to several fact checks on this claim, Trump is apparently sourcing one Washington Post article, however, as the Associated Press notes, “While Trump accurately quotes part of the analysis, he omits that the statistical jump was so large because homicides are still very low by historical standards. In the 50 cities cited by the Post, for example, half as many people were killed last year as in 1991.”

Next, “In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent.” Trump here, is sort of right. From 2014 to 2015, homicide rates in D.C. actually spiked more than 50 percent, from 105 killings to 162. However, according to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the homicide rate is down 9 percent in 2016.

Now, “In the President’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone.” This one is true. In fact, it’s worse. As of publication, the number of shooting victims in Chicago is actually at 2,224. But what will Trump do about it? Gun control is certainly not part of “making America great again.”

How about this one? “The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50 percent compared to this point last year." While any death is horrific, the reported statistics don’t come close to 50 percent. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, police fatalities are up slightly in 2016, by 8 percent, from the same time period in 2015.

Finally, “Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.” Hmm, perhaps we missed the roaming mobs of immigrants in the streets. As The Wall Street Journal notes, according to the American Immigration Council, the illegal immigrant population in the U.S. more than tripled between 1990 and 2013, however, “FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48 percent—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and murder.”

Furthermore, the American Immigration Council notes:

“A variety of different studies using different methodologies have found that immigrants are less likely than the native-born to engage in either violent or nonviolent “antisocial” behaviors; that immigrants are less likely than the native-born to be repeat offenders among “high risk” adolescents; and that immigrant youth who were students in U.S. middle and high schools in the mid-1990s and are now young adults have among the lowest delinquency rates of all young people.”

Trump’s statements are not far off, they are simply manipulated to scare viewers into believing anything he says. Like all political speeches, listen, just make sure to check the receipts.

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Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

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