A senatorial candidate said that neighborhoods have become more violent under Obama’s watch. Another speaker then said that the fear of crime is rising, particularly among African-American communities. Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, claimed that crime rose during Obama’s two terms and that previous decades of progress in bringing down crime were reversed due to the Obama administration’s lack of criminal enforcement.
Obama himself refuted those statements. He said that there were huge drops in murder rates, especially in major cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York.
Which one among the two sides is telling the truth? Has crime indeed risen during the Obama time, or has it gone down? Let’s take a look at facts and figures to see if those claims are true.
To show which side is telling the truth, we refer to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to FBI data, crime rates have steadily gone down since 1991, which was the peak, particularly of violent crimes. When President Obama first came into power in 2008, there was a violent crime rate of 458.6 (per 100,000 population). This went down to 361.6 in 2014, which was the lowest it has been since the 1960s and early 1970s. Similar trends appear for other crimes such as burglary, property crimes, robbery, etc. In light of this data, we can safely conclude that for at least three-fourths of President Obama’s two terms combined, crime went down. Obama’s statement that there were huge drops in murder rates during his time is factual.
However, Donald Trump’s statement that crime rose during Obama’s time is not entirely false either. According to the FBI data, violent crimes rose in 2015. From 361.6 in 2014, FBI reported a violent crime rate of 372.6 in 2015. The total number of murders went up, as well as rape, robberies, and aggravated assaults. While the 2016 data has not yet been released, preliminary reports for the first half of the year indicate that the crime rate rose up again. Adrian Johnston, a homicide attorney, noted that there are more violent cases this year, especially in light of police officers killing allegedly unarmed African-Americans. The news is also full of different murders, from the Orlando nightclub shooting, to the Dallas attack on police officers, and others.
Since 2006, which was the second to the last year of former president George W. Bush, crime has steadily gone down, including in the Obama administration. The only bump happened in 2012, but there was only a very minor increase in violent crime rate. It was only in 2015 that there was a marked increase that took place.
With these, we can safely say that the Obama presidency, for the most part, has had a positive effect with regard to crime and keeping communities safe. A 458.6 crime lowered to 361.6 is a huge step in a span of six years.
However, it seems as if he is not finishing well in this area, thanks to the increase in 2015 and the high likelihood of another crime rate this year. Confidence in the police force is shakier now than before, thanks in part to social media and the news of alleged police brutality in different cities across the United States.
Since crime prevention is a major topic in the upcoming elections, both Democratic and Republican parties are trying to outdo each other with their respective statements.