The violent crime rate across the country, excluding simple assault, dropped by 15 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year, according to new crime statistics released by the Justice Department (DOJ) on Monday.
The results (pdf) found that from 2018 to 2019 the rate of violent crime fell from 8.6 to 7.3 victimizations per 1,000 people aged 12 years and above. This fall is partly driven by a decline in rape or sexual assault victimization, which fell from 2.7 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2018 to 1.7 per 1,000 in 2019, the department says.
For women, the fall was more significant, dropping by 27 percent from 2018 to 2019.
The data was collected for the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the nation’s largest crime survey collected annually which asks about 160,000 individuals whether they are victims of crime regardless of whether the crime had been reported to the police.
Violent crime under this survey does not include homicides, which is collected in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. The survey only collects data on non-fatal personal crimes such as rape or sexual assault and aggravated and simple assault, and household property crimes such as robbery.
The survey also found that the number of victims age 12 or older dropped from 1.4 million in 2018 to 1.2 million in 2019, marking a significant decrease in the number of victims of violent crime since 2015.
Moreover, there were 880,000 fewer victims of serious crimes in 2019 compared to the previous year, representing a 19 percent drop, according to the survey.
The latest data is released amid a time where many cities across the country have reported an uptick of violent crime, in particular homicides and non-fatal shootings. Comparable data for 2020 from the NCVS amid the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic is currently being collected and will be released next year.
The spike in homicides and non-fatal shootings in 2020 compared to last year prompted the DOJ to launch a crime-fighting program known as Operation LeGend. The program, which began in July, involves surging additional federal agents and resources to major metropolitan cities to work with state and local partners to crack down on violent crime across the country.
Attorney General William Barr has also been expressing concern over the demonization of law enforcement amid protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, saying that efforts to “defund the police” have partly contributed to the uptick in violent crime.
“Unfortunately, we have recently seen violent crime spike in many major cities, especially homicides and non-fatal shootings. There are likely a number of reasons for this increase, including pent-up aggression prompted by state and local quarantine orders, and efforts to demonize police and defund their work,” Barr said in a speech in August.
President Donald Trump’s administration has been taking a hard-line stance against crime. Since 2017, his administration has ramped up federal law enforcement in areas of immigration, human trafficking, drug trafficking, and firearm offenses.
The NCVS also found that an estimated 12.8 million U.S. households had experienced one or more property victimization such as burglaries, residential trespassing, motor-vehicle thefts, and other thefts. But the rate of property crime declined by 6 percent in 2019 compared to last year. This was driven partly due to a fall in burglaries in 2019.