At a campaign rally last Sunday in Las Vegas, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said, “Murder is — in 45 years, right now, the rates are the highest they’ve been … and they don’t want to talk about it.” Trump started using this talking point during the second presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, and he cited the homicide data more accurately than he does now. Over the past three weeks, the talking point has evolved into something completely opposite of the FBI’s crime statistics, which show that the homicide total is back down to the level it was in 1964, or 52 years ago, the Washington Post reports.
When Trump began using this talking point, he was citing FBI data showing homicides were up 10.8 percent nationwide in 2015. That was the biggest percentage jump in a single year since 1971, or 45 years. There was an increase in the violent crime rate overall in 2015. Homicides have continued to spike in major cities this year. Law enforcement officials and the FBI have voiced concerns about the uptick in crime in 2015. Criminal justice experts warn against comparing crime trends from short periods of time, such as month over month or year over year. An annual trend can show a trajectory of where the trend might be headed but still does not give a full picture. Many criminal justice experts say crime trends are determined over at least five years, preferably 10 or 20 years, of data. The Post’s Fact checker gives Trump four Pinocchios for declaring that U.S. murder rates are the highest they’ve been in 45 years.