Donald Trump’s apocalyptic tone on crime in his braying convention address set off a flurry of media “fact checks“—many of which were far more misleading than anything the candidate himself said. The most dishonest pieces failed to even note that the violent crime rate had increased at all, instead suggesting that Trump was inventing the narrative out of whole cloth. Others pieces reluctantly noted that the crime rate had risen in 2015 in many urban centers, but suggested that this was normal variation, not a cause for alarm.
But new data suggests that we might be looking at something more sustained and worrisome than many of the “nothing-to-see-here” voices would have us believe. As the researchers Sean Kennedy and Parker Abt note in RealClearPolicy (click through to see the chart) the 2014 to 2015 increase persisted into the first months of 2016:
Today, the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association released data for the first half of 2016. It confirms this trend: homicide rates are rising. If this increase in homicide rates holds, this year will see the largest jump in murders since 1960 with the exception of last year — which saw the largest increase in decades.
To be absolutely clear: America’s murder rate is still low by post-1960s standards. Americans are less likely to be murdered than they were even eight years ago. And Trump’s bluster does not amount to a plan to help reduce crime rates. But there is no escaping the fact that we are in the midst of an alarming uptick in violent crime in our biggest cities. The fact that Trump would seize on this fact does not mean that it isn’t true. And merely denying reality is not a sustainable response.