Eric Holder -- the former U.S. Attorney General who left his post and was held in contempt of Congress in the wake the controversial Fast and Furious investigation -- claimed in a speech at the Democratic National Convention that during President Barack Obama’s term in office, violent crime in the United States has dropped.
“As Attorney General, I launched sweeping reforms of our federal criminal justice system and reduced its reliance on draconian mandatory minimum sentences,” Holder said.” As a result, we cut the federal prison population and the crime rate – together – for the first time in more than 40 years. That's right: despite the fiction and fear mongering you've heard from the other party's nominee, violent crime has gone down since President Obama took office.”
However, according to mid-year figures released by the Major Cities Chiefs Association, homicides and other violent crime are up in many large American cities since 2015. The figures were publicized by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) show an increase in every violent crime category in Los Angeles County, Las Vegas, Chicago, San Antonio and San Jose.
Crime and police/community relations are major issues in the presidential race, according to Republican candidate Donald Trump. He said at last week’s Republican convention, “the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end.” He added, “Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored,” Trump added.
President Obama responded to Trump, saying, “When it comes to crime, the violent crime rate in America has been lowered during my presidency and any time in the last three, four decades.” However, Obama added that “it is true that we’ve seen an uptick in murders and violent crime in some cities this year.” He focused on figures provided by the FBI figures that appear to show violent crime is at a multi-year low.
The Major Cities Chiefs Association compared mid-year 2015 to mid-year 2016 and determined that violent crime is rising in 51 reporting jurisdictions. In these, homicides have increased by an average of 15 percent across the country when compared to 2015. Robberies during in the same period have increased by 2.4 percent, aggravated assaults by 2.6 percent, and non-fatal shootings by 9.5 percent.
Several cities saw substantial increases in violent crime. Chicago experienced a rise in homicides from 211 in the first half of 2015 to 316 so far this year. Rape is big in Chicago too: it is up this year to 677 as compared to 643 in 2015. Also in Chicago, there were upticks in the following categories: Robbery (5,176 compared to 4,050 in 2015), aggravated assault (2,751 compared to 2,298 in 2015), and non-fatal shootings (1,321 compared to 875 in 2015). Violent crime has risen by 27 percent this year as compared to 2015. Homicides increased by 50 percent.
Phoenix, Las Vegas, Dallas, Los Angeles County, Louisville, and San Antonio also had higher violent crime rates. In Phoenix, there were 78 homicides reported during the first six months of 2016, which is 26 more than were reported during the first half of 2015. Las Vegas reported 90 homicides so far in 2016: 34 more than last year. Dallas has seen an increase of 14 more homicides over last year, coming in at 83. Los Angeles County reported 25 more homicides over last year with a total so far in 2016 of 110. Louisville and San Antonio both reported 19 more homicides than the first half of 2015.
Right next door to Washington DC in Prince George’s County, Maryland, homicides have increased by 71 percent. In Arlington, Texas, homicides increased by 225 percent compared to mid-year 2015. In Baltimore, where the police protection has been diminished by about 14 percent since the end of 2014, non-fatal shootings have increased by 13 percent and robberies have increased by 16 percent.