Murders rates soar; other violent crime decline

Chris Strohm Bloomberg News (TNS)

WASHINGTON - Murder rates soared in the U.S. in the first half of 2020, even as other violent crimes such as rape and robbery declined, according to preliminary data released by the FBI on Tuesday.

The FBI's Preliminary Uniform Crime Report revealed declines in the number of violent crimes and property crimes reported by law enforcement agencies from January through June of this year compared with the first six months of 2019. Overall, violent crime fell 0.4 percent despite the spike in murders.

The report is likely to fuel controversy as President Donald Trump makes a vow to enforce "law and order" a centerpiece of his reelection campaign. Although the murder rate is climbing on his watch, Trump blames Democratic-led city and state governments for violent protests and portrays rival Joe Biden as unable to take on left-wing anarchists.

Nationally, the murder rate increased 14.8 percent, with the largest increase of 26 percent in cities with a population of 250,000 to 500,000. Arson rates increased about 19 percent, with a surge of 52 percent in cities with more than 1 million residents.

Incidents of rape fell almost 18 percent over the six months, while property crime and burglary rates each fell almost 8 percent and robberies declined about 7 percent. Violent crimes fell by nearly 5 percent in the Northeast, the most of any region in the country.

The report offered no explanation for the surge in murders. The FBI cautions against using the statistics to compile rankings of cities and counties, saying that doesn't "provide insight into the numerous variables that shape crime in a given state, county, city, town, tribal area or region."