A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University traces how rates of reported crime have varied among 30 cities since the early 1990s. Crime rates have declined nationally since its peak then, as measured by FBI annual compilations of crimes reported to local police departments. Several cities have seen violent crime decline significantly, despite isolated increases. In Boston, for example, violent crime was already falling in 1991 and continued to fall until an uptick in 2005 and 2006. The next year, reported violent crime resumed its decline in the city.
Not all cities have seen violent crime decline. In Las Vegas, the violent crime rate has been especially volatile. The rate surged between 1990 and 1994, then steeply declined until 2000. Yet, from 2000 to 2007 crime followed a largely upward trajectory, reaching another peak in 2007. Then crime fell until 2011, and followed another largely upward trajectory until 2015. Last year’s estimated rate was a drop of nearly 13 percent from 2015, and now is roughly at the same rate as in 1998. Other cities have seen violence rise in recent years: Houston and Los Angeles are two examples. Los Angeles was estimated to have a violent crime rate of 640 per 100,000 in 2016, an increase of nearly 60 percent since 2013. Yet 2013 marked the all-time lowest rate in Los Angeles. In Houston violent crime rose by 7.8 percent last year, but was down 35 percent since its 1991 peak.