Murder Increased Nationwide By Record Rate In 2020 As Police Employment Fell, FBI Report Shows

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Violent crime increased for the first time in four years and America’s murder rate increased by a record amount in 2020, according to new FBI data released Monday.

The nationwide violent crime rate increased by 5.6% from 2019 to 2020, according to the FBI’s 2020 “Crime in the United States” annual report. The estimated 2020 rate of violent crime was 387.8 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, driven by an increase in assault and a record rise in murder.

Murder jumped by nearly 30%, the largest increase since recordkeeping began, according to the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer. The arrest rate for murder and non-negligent manslaughter in 2020 was 3.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. The estimated number of aggravated assault offenses jumped by 12.1%, while estimated rates for rape, robbery and property crimes all fell.

The 2020 murder rate was the highest in more than 20 years, but remained lower than peak rates during the 1980s and 1990s, according to the FBI.

Policing tactics and funding levels were a flashpoint of political debate in 2020, particularly following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. A number of large cities reduced police budgets or restricted policing tactics, in some cases corresponding with an increase in crime levels. (RELATED: Here’s How Well ‘Defund The Police’ Worked For Democrats)

According to the FBI, 13,377 law enforcement agencies reported staffing levels to the agency in 2020, and the rate of law enforcement employees nationwide was 3.4 per 1,000 inhabitants. That represents a decrease from 2019, when the number reported by the FBI was 3.5 per 1,000 inhabitants.