Why Do We Lie About Increasing Violence?

Police Van


It’s so obvious that violent crime is increasing that when I’m told otherwise, I get nauseous.

Note: Crime reports for the United States for all of 2016 will be offered in September and October.


Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Post-Masters’ Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University


Throughout my thirty-five years of public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies, I was schooled by media organizations as to the ethics of reporting, and the role I played.

Fairness, accuracy, balance and nonpartisan reporting were goals of the industry. Maybe you believe that, maybe you don’t, but media ethics were the centerpiece of discussions when I had disputes with journalists.

So imagine my dismay over the denial of rising violent crime throughout the United States. It’s so obvious that violent crime is increasing that when I’m told otherwise by reputable sources, I get nauseous

What Crime Wave?

The following is from the Marshall Project:

What crime wave? 2017 is on pace to have the second-lowest crime rate since 1990, according to a preliminary analysis of crime statistics from the nation’s 30 largest cities. The murder rate is projected to be down nationally 2.5 percent thanks in part to significant drops in New York, Houston, and Detroit. The murder rate is, however, up from its low of 2013, THE WASHINGTON POST. Related: Read the report. BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE , The Marshall Project.

Additional newspapers have made similar claims of declining violence based on historical averages.

Are We On the Same Planet?

Yes, historically, the country is experiencing low rates of crime. The last two decades have seen remarkable reductions in violent crime.

But with the flattening rates for violent crime in 2014, increases in violent crime for 2015 and the first six months of 2016, saying that violent crime is decreasing (based on historical lows) is an insult to truth, journalistic ethics, and to victims of crime.

Violent crime will increase for all of 2016 based on multiple newspaper articles examining state and local crime rates.

It’s like saying that historically, major hurricanes (category three and above) haven’t hit the US since 2005 (NOAA) when all of us are grappling with the results of recent and massive storms.

Shall we tell millions of hurricane victims that have no right to complain, that they have never lived in safer times?

Recent Crime Data

The bottom line is that violent and property crimes are historically at record lows for the country and, generally speaking, have been decreasing for the last two decades except for recent years via FBI data (2011, 2012, 2015 and the first six months of 2016 as examples).

There have been additional increases since 1990-the rate of violent crime in the US increased in 2005 and 2006 (via FBI data) but the index returned to decreases in 2007.

Data from the National Crime Survey also state that we are at record lows for criminal activity. From 1993 to 2015, the rate of violent crime declined from 79.8 to 18.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older. Violent crime was flat for 2015 per the NCS.

Data from Gallup, however, suggests that crime and fear of crime have increased to historical highs, Crime in America.

Is America Entering a New Era of Increasing Violence?

Yes, violent crime (and fear of crime) is increasing throughout the United States. We predicted the increase for 2015 based on crimes reported to police, and we correctly predicted another increase in 2016. According to FBI data, it’s rare for the rate of violent crime to increase for one year only, Crime in America.

Violent crime will increase for all of calendar year 2016.

Then Why Does the Media Distort Crime Increases?

Donald Trump. Trump cites rising crime as a cornerstone of his platform to return to “law and order” and strong support for law enforcement (disclosure-I did not vote for the first time in the last election).

Via Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump consistently addresses rising violent crime. The President favors traditional methods of strong law enforcement and incarceration. Criminal justice reform is not a priority.

For those favoring reform, it’s necessary to dispute the notion of rising rates of violent crime. If they don’t, they lose momentum, or it stalls altogether. Many editors and reporters are philosophically supportive of justice reform.

What saddens me is why reputable sources rush to deny the obvious. I understand that advocates will mislead to promote a point of view, but some mainstream media are engaging in purposeful distortions.

I’m convinced that Trump won because he understood people’s fear of increasing violence. Trump understood the mood of the country, and was supported by Gallup research indicating that fear of crime is at record highs.

Newspapers didn’t get it. Many rely on dissenting criminologists. Is there any wonder as to why newspapers are suffering as to declining readers, trust and revenues?


We all know about the incredible rise in violent crime in cities like Chicago and Baltimore plus many others. This finding is balanced by the fact that violent crime has leveled off or decreased in cities like Washington, D.C., New York plus others.

But violent crime is increasing throughout the US (and in other countries) based on reported crimes for 2014, 2015 and 2016, and crime and fear of crime data from Gallup.

As far as victims and their families are concerned, it doesn’t matter what happened before, or that crime is at historic lows.

Violent crime has immense implications for cities, states, and the country. Ignoring recent increases is journalistically, fundamentally and morally wrong.


Crime in America at http://crimeinamerica.net

Contact us at crimeinamerica@gmail.com.

Media on deadline, use leonardsipes@gmail.com.

My book: “Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization,” is available at Amazon at https://amzn.com/151948965X

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Example News Coverage

What’s below represent Google searches on crime and violent crime. I could have offered hundreds of additional examples.

Do all jurisdictions report increases in violent crime? No, but there are plenty of examples of increases:

Crime rate in Colorado increases much faster than rest of the … – Denver

Jul 11, 2017 – Colorado’s overall crime rate increased 5.5 percent in Colorado from 2015 to 2016 fueled by a rise in violent crime

Did California prison reform lead to an increase in crime? | Fox News

Apr 17, 2017 – “The most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show violent crime rates in some California cities has increased by over 50 percent.

Violent crime in L.A. jumps for third straight year as police deal with …

Dec 30, 2016 – Violent crime increased in Los Angeles for the third straight year as police tried to stem a rash of homicides and gang-related shootings

Violent crime increases past five years in Tompkins County … – Ithaca

Apr 19, 2017 – Though the events are random and apparently disconnected, they are just a few examples contributing to an overall increase in violent crime

Violent crimes and major property crimes increase in Memphis

Jul 21, 2017 – Crime rates are still below levels from 2006, according to the stats, but officials are expressing concern about the upward trend.

Another rise in violent crime in Tulsa in 2016 – The Frontier

Jan 10, 2017 – In Tulsa, compared to the first six months of 2015, the same period in 2016 saw a 24 percent increase in violent crime.

Virginia State Police report: Violent crime increased … – Roanoke Times

Jun 30, 2017 – The state saw an increase of more than 10 percent in violent crimes in 2016 compared with the previous year.

Juneau sees steep rise in property crime in 2016, police say | Juneau …

Jan 18, 2017 – You hear a familiar refrain when you talk to Juneau residents about crime: This isn’t the town it used to be and crime is on the rise.

Austin Police Department reports increase in annual crime rate | The …

Jan 18, 2017 – APD reports 2016 had the highest murder rate in a more than a decade.

Boca Raton sees double-digit percent crime increase in 2016 …

Jun 15, 2017 – BOCA RATON – There was a 13 percent increase in violent and non-violent crimes in Boca Raton last year.

Alaska crime report shows increases in most categories last year …

There was a murder every seven days in the state, a rape every eight hours, a vehicle theft every three hours, an assault every two hours.

Violent crime rates increase in Salem, state – Statesman Journal

Sep 29, 2016 – Salem’s violent crime rate increased in 2015, although it remained lower than the national average. The city’s property crime rate continued to be much higher.

Louisville crime increases in a part of the city you wouldn’t ex – wave3 …

Oct 26, 2016 – Louisville, KY (WAVE) – As if the increased gun violence we’ve seen in Louisville isn’t bad enough, new numbers show crime is rising.

BART sees 22 percent increase in crime compared to last year …

Apr 28, 2017 – BART has seen a 22 percent increase in crime compared to the same time period as last year, and nearly all types of crime are up on the system.

Minneapolis violent crime edged up in 2016, stats show – StarTribune …

Jan 4, 2017 – Percent change in violent crime in 2016* compared to previous 5-year average.

Violent crimes up in many Arizona cities – AZ Central

Sep 26, 2016 – Violent crime throughout the U.S. increased in the past year, including in several large cities in Arizona, according to FBI data released Monday.

Does Charlotte feel more violent? 2016 crime data paints an ugly …

Jan 31, 2017 – Violent crime in Charlotte was up just over 10 percent last year, including more … Among the more startling jumps: a 16.7 percent increase in homicides.

Stats Show Violent Crime On the Rise in San Antonio Over the Past …

Sep 27, 2016 – Sure, the annual stats released by the FBI Monday might seem alarming at first glance – a 4 percent increase in violent crime from 2014 to 2015.

Overall Redding crime rate drops, but violent crime up

Mar 22, 2017 – A significant increase in homicides and reported rapes in Redding helped fuel a 17 percent increase in violent crime in 2016.

LRPD Reports Increase in Violent Crimes in Southwest Little Rock

Jul 17, 2017 – Little Rock Police Department records indicate there has been a 23 percent increase in the number of violent crimes.





  1. […] just wrote, “Why Do We Lie About Increasing Violence,” at Crime in America. The article offered data from the FBI and Gallup documenting increases in violent crime and fear […]

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