Bottom line, crime remains "at historic lows" and increases in violent crime used to tout some sort of "Ferguson effect" last year were overstated.
In terms of murder rates, "The 2015 murder rate rose by 13.3 percent in the 30 largest cities, with 19 cities seeing increases and 6 decreases. However, in absolute terms, murder rates are so low that a small numerical increase can lead to a large percentage change" (emphasis added).
Beyond murders, "Overall crime rates in America’s 30 largest cities were nearly identical from 2014 to 2015, according to an analysis of final 2015 numbers. Crime declined over that time period by 0.1 percent. The data show that crime rates remain at historic lows nationally, despite recent upticks in a handful of cities.
Looking back at 2015 as a whole, "Two-thirds of cities saw drops in crime, which were offset mostly by an increase in Los Angeles (12.7 percent). Nationally, crime remains at all-time lows."
And when we talk about violent crime, the effects are quite isolated: "Violent crime rose slightly, by 3.1 percent. This result was primarily caused by increasing violence in Los Angeles (25.2 percent), Baltimore (19.2 percent), and Charlotte (15.9 percent). Notably, aggravated assaults in Los Angeles account for more than half of the national rise in violent crime."
Of Texas cities included in their analysis:
- Houston's overall crime rate dropped 4.9 percent from 2014 to 2015, with violent crime declining 2.4 percent; murders up 23.1 percent.
- Dallas' overall crime rate dropped 4.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, with violent crime increasing by 4.1 percent; murders up 7.7 percent.
- San Antonio's overall crime rate dropped 5.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, with violent crime increasing 11.8 percent; murders are down 10.4 percent.
- Austin's overall crime rate dropped 9.8 percent from 2014 to 2015, with violent crime declining 8.6 percent; murders are down 33.1 percent.
- Fort Worth's 's overall crime rate dropped 8.0 percent from 2014 to 2015, with violent crime declining 2.7 percent; murders up 7.0 percent.
Again, when considering murder rates, it can't be overemphasized that, as stated before, "in absolute terms, murder rates are so low that a small numerical increase can lead to a large percentage change." That's what's happening in Texas. It's safer to live here right now, essentially, than anytime during your correspondent's adult lifetime.
MORE: The Atlantic last week ran a story questioning, "What caused the great crime decline in the US?" For those seeking answers to this surprisingly difficult question, see:
- Vox: 16 theories for why crime plummeted in the US
- Marshall Project: 10 (not entirely crazy) theories explaining the Great Crime Decline
- National Research Council: The Growth of Incarceration in the United States
AND MORE: From the Texas Tribune.