Violent crime is up in 2022, according to MCCA survey of 70 U.S. police agencies

Violent crime is on the rise in the U.S., according to 2022 survey results recently published by the Major City Chiefs Association (MCCA). The MCCA is a professional organization of police executives that advocates for the advancement of public safety through innovation, research, and policy development. The results presented here were collected as part of an annual survey of their membership, which included 70 of the largest jurisdictions in the U.S.

Agencies reported the number of aggravated assaults, homicides, rapes, and robberies that occurred during the first half of 2022 and first half of 2021. Counts and rates were compared across years. Among responding agencies, there was a total increase of +4% in violent crime. This was driven mostly by increases in robberies, which were up +12.7%, and aggravated assaults, which were up by +2.4% These two crimes were the most prevalent overall, accounting for 86% of violent crime reported in 2022.

Study Sample

Among the 70 U.S. agencies surveyed, 68 were local police departments while 2 were Sherriff’s offices. For the purposes of this post, data from the Los Angeles County Sherriff (LASD) was dropped because their coverage zone overlaps with the Los Angeles City Police Department (LAPD). Thus, the new sample is 69 agencies, 68 of which are local police departments. Hereafter, this sample will be referred to as the analytic sample.

42% of agencies were located in the South, 27.5% were in the West, 18.8% were in the Midwest, and 11.6% were in the Northeast. California was the most represented out of all the states with eight agencies, comprising 11.6% of the overall sample and 42% of the 19 agencies in the West. Texas was also heavily represented with seven agencies, comprising 10.1% of the overall sample and 24% of the 29 agencies in the South. Florida was the third most represented, with their five agencies comprising 7.2% of the total and 17% of the South.

All of the responding departments were pretty large, with a median of 1,400 full-time sworn officers across the agencies. Even the smallest department (Salt Lake City PD) had roughly 500 full-time sworn officers, which is much higher than the U.S. average. In contrast, national-level statistics estimate that the vast majority (75%) of local police departments employ fewer than 25 full-time sworn officers. The median population served among responding departments was 675,501, with a minimum of 202,426 in Salt Lake City and a maximum of 8,379,043 in New York City. About 32% of responding agencies served populations of 500,000 or fewer, while 45% served populations ranging from 500,000 to 1 million, and 23% served populations of 1 million or more.

Results

Across all 69 agencies, violent crimes increased by +4%, from 220,275 to 229,467. In terms of rates, there were an additional +13.7 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Among the 44 agencies (63.8%) contributing to the increase, the violent crime rate rose by a median of +25.8 crimes per 100,000. The most dramatic rate increases were seen in Aurora, Colorado (+96.4 per 100,000), followed by Sacramento (+77.8), New York City (+69.9), San Antonio (+67.0), and Nashville (+64.2). Despite this, 25 agencies (36.2%) saw decreases in violent crime. Among these 25, the violent crime rate decreased by a median of -41.6 crimes per 100,000. Largest rate decreases were seen in Detroit (-142.4 per 100,000), followed by Louisville, Kentucky (-103.8), Columbus, Ohio (-95.0), Cleveland (-91.1), and Oakland (-86.4).

Overall robberies increased by +12.7%, from 51,724 to 58,307. This translates to an additional +9.9 robberies per 100,000. In the 51 agencies (73.9%) where robbery increased, the median rate increase was +12.3 robberies per 100,000. Increases were most prevalent in Philadelphia (+51.7 per 100,000), closely followed by Baltimore (+47.9) Memphis (+38.7), Albuquerque (+38.3), and Portland (+37.6). In contrast, 18 agencies (26.1%) saw decreases in robbery. Among these agencies, the median rate decrease was -5.9 robberies per 100,000. Rate decreases were largest in Columbus, Ohio (-45.3 per 100,000), followed by Oklahoma City (-19.0), Milwaukee (-17.4), Houston (-14.0), and Louisville, Kentucky (-12.3).

The number of aggravated assaults increased by +2.4%, from 222 to 227. This translates to an additional +5.2 assaults per 100,000. Among the 35 agencies (50.7%) reporting increases in aggravated assaults, the median rate increase was +20.9 assaults per 100,000. This was most exaggerated in Aurora, Colorado (+90.1 per 100,000), followed by San Antonio (+64.0), DeKalb County, Georgia (+59.7), Nashville (+53.7), and New York City (+40.5). One agency saw no change in aggravated assaults, while the remaining 33 agencies (47.8%) saw decreases. Among these 33, the median rate decrease was -16.2 assaults per 100,000. The biggest rate decreases were seen in Detroit (-126.2 per 100,000), followed by Louisville, Kentucky (-93.7), Oakland (-77.4), Cleveland (-73.9), and Milwaukee (-51.3).

The number of rapes decreased by -5.2%, from 15,945 to 15,116. This translates to -1.2 fewer rapes per 100,000. Of the 40 agencies (58.1%) that saw decreases, the median rate decrease was -4.1 rapes per 100,000. This was most evident in Tucson (-18.2 per 100,000), followed by Aurora, Colorado (-16.6), Albuquerque (-16.4), Oklahoma City (-14.6), and New Orleans (-14.2). Two agencies saw no change in rape rates, while the remaining 27 agencies (39%) saw increases. Of the agencies reporting increases, the median rate increase was +2.0 rapes per 100,000. The increase was most dramatic in Sacramento (+12.1 per 100,000), followed by Tulsa (+11.0), Salt Lake City (+10.4), San Jose (+9.4), and Fort Worth (+7.5).

Among this sample, homicides decreased by -1.3%, from 4,471 to 4,414. This translates to -0.09 fewer homicides per 100,000. Of the 40 agencies (58.1%) that saw declines, the median rate decrease was -1.1 homicides per 100,000. Decreases were the most dramatic in Cleveland (-4.7 per 100,000), followed closely by Wichita, Kansas (-4.4), Columbus, Ohio (-4.3), Detroit (-3.2), and Oakland (-2.8). In contrast, 28 cities (40.6%) saw increases in homicide rates, with a median increase of +1.6 homicides per 100,000. The increase was the most apparent in New Orleans (+11.1 per 100,000), followed by Milwaukee (+4.9), San Antonio (+4.7), Atlanta (+2.8), and Baltimore (+2.5).

California Agencies

As stated above, California was the most represented in the MCCA survey, with eight total agencies that comprised 11.6% of the 69 agencies. Participating California agencies were Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, and Oakland. Among this subset of eight cities, the number of violent crimes increased by +7%, from 30,730 to 32,920, which is higher than the +4.0% seen in the overall sample. In terms of rates, California agencies witnesses an additional 112 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2022 relative to 2021. Violent crime increased the most in Sacramento, with an estimated additional 77.8 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2022 relative to 2021. Violent crime rates also increased in Los Angeles (+37.6 per 100,000), Fresno (+24.7), San Jose (+23.1), San Francisco (+15.8), Long Beach (+13.9), and San Diego (+5.4). Interestingly, Oakland was the only city that experienced a decrease, where violent crime rates declined by -86.4 per 100,000.

Robberies increased by +15.3%, from 8,714 to 10,051, which is steeper than the +12.7% seen above for the larger sample. In terms of rates, California agencies reported an additional 95.1 robberies per 100,000 in 2022 relative to 2021. This was most noticeable in Sacramento, where robbery rates increased by 28.2 per 100,000. Increases were also reported by Los Angeles (+21.4 per 100,000), Fresno (+20.4), Long Beach (+18.2), San Diego (+7.5), San Jose (+4.7), and San Francisco (+1.0). Interestingly, Oakland was the only city that experienced a decrease, where the robbery rate decreased by -6.5 per 100,000.

Aggravated assault incidents increased by +3.9%, from 19,485 to 20,238, which is more pronounced than the +2.4% indicated for the larger sample. In terms of rates, California agencies saw an additional +5.6 aggravated assaults per 100,000 in 2022 relative to 2021. Increases were most prevalent in Sacramento, where the rate of aggravated assaults increased by 37.8 per 100,000. Other agencies where aggravated assault rates increased were Los Angeles (+15.9 per 100,000), San Francisco (+15.4), San Jose (+9.2), and Fresno (+5.1). San Diego saw no change at all, and Long Beach saw a modest decrease of -0.21 assaults per 100,000. In contrast, Oakland saw a sizable rate decrease of -77.4 assaults per 100,000.

In contrast to the overall decrease of -5.2%, rape in California agencies actually increased by +5.6%, from 2,120 to 2,239. This translates to an additional +15.8 rapes per 100,000. The increase was largely driven by Sacramento, where rapes increased by a rate of +12.1 per 100,000. Closely following was San Jose, where rapes increased by a rate of +9.4 per 100,000. Modest rate increases were also noted in Fresno (+1.3 per 100,000), Los Angeles (+0.27 per 100,000), and Oakland (+0.23). In contrast, rapes declined in Long Beach (-4.7 per 100,000), San Diego (-2.4), and San Francisco (-0.45).

The number of homicides reported by California agencies decreased by -4.6%, from 411 to 392, which is larger than the overall decrease of -1.3% seen above. In terms of rates, this is equivalent to a decrease of -4.5 homicides per 100,000. Homicide rates decreased the most in Oakland, followed closely by Fresno, where the number of homicides per 100,000 dropped by -2.8 and -2.1 (respectively). Modest decreases in homicide rates were also seen in San Jose (-0.29 per 100,000), Sacramento (-0.19), San Francisco (-0.11). In contrast, three cities saw increases in homicide rates, but they were modest: Long Beach (+0.64 per 100,000), San Diego (+0.28), and Los Angeles (+0.05).

Conclusion 

Among responding agencies, there was a small increase in violent crime that was driven mostly by robberies and aggravated assaults. Unfortunately, this sample is likely not representative of the U.S. as a whole, so it might not be entirely reflective of national trends. Still, it still gives a rough picture of the violent crime landscape among the reporting agencies. At this time, there is no clear indication of why some cities saw increases in certain types of crimes but decreases in other crimes. Further, there were no real patterns regarding population size or geographical region when it comes to differences between states. That said, it’s hard to explain why some cities differed from each other. Future research should attempt to incorporate more variables to examine these relationships, and possiby incorporate MCCA survey data from previous years to examine trends over the long term.

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