The collective homicide toll for the 50 largest U.S. cities dipped slightly in 2017, reports USA Today. The FBI’s compilation isn’t due until later this year, but a review of police crime data shows that killings decreased in large jurisdictions compared with 2016. The modest decline comes after FBI data showed back-to-back years in which homicides rose sharply in large cities. Homicides in cities with 250,000 or more residents rose by about 15.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, and 8.2 percent from 2015 to 2016. There were 5,738 homicides in the 50 biggest cities in 2017 compared with 5,863 homicides in 2016, a 2.3 percent drop. Las Vegas reported 141 homicides for 2017 in its official tally but did not include the Oct. 1 mass shooting at an outdoor country music concert that left 58 dead. If those deaths were included, the national big city homicide toll fell by 1.1 percent.
Even with the sharp rise in homicides in the two years prior to 2017, the national murder toll continued to hover near historic lows. The national decrease in killings in 2017 was largely driven by double-digit percentage dips in some big cities, including Chicago (14.7 percent), New York City (13.4 percent) and Houston (11 percent). Baltimore is the big city with the highest per capita murder rate in the nation, with nearly 56 murders per 100,000 people. At 343 murders in 2017, the city tallied the highest per capita rate in its history. “In New York, they concentrated on the right neighborhoods, they’ve invested well in predictive analytics and technology,” said Peter Scharf, a criminologist at the LSU School of Public Health and Justice. “The other part of what we’re seeing nationally might be a story of haves and have-nots. While some departments have made the investments, other police departments are still in the backwater of policing.”