In September, the FBI released its annual report on national crime statistics
in 2016, showing violent crime has increased for the second consecutive
year by 4.1 percent. Property crime has shown a steady decline for the
14th straight year, falling by 1.3 percent compared to 2015.
An estimated 1.2 million violent crimes were committed in the U.S.
last year. This includes an estimated 17,250 murders and reported 95,730
rapes. 64.3 percent of the violent crimes consisted of aggravated
The FBI report unleashed a barrage of criticism
from different parties for omissions and a lack of details. In the
divisive year we are living through, it became yet another weapon for
people to turn against each other.
More than 16,000 law
enforcement agencies nationwide report crime stats to the FBI's Uniform
Crime Reporting (UCR) program. The data is then compiled into the
comprehensive annual report.
But law enforcement agencies nationwide are transitioning to
the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), a more informative
and transparent system that will collect more comprehensive data and
offer additional transparency. NIBRS will be the national standard for
crime reporting by 2021.
On Monday, NIBRS released details on more than 6.1 million criminal offenses for 2016.
For the first time, the FBI
has also released data about hacking/computer invasion, fraud offenses
of identity theft and animal cruelty offenses. The other parameters are
data about known offenders and relationships for 52 offenses and
victims. The report also includes 10 additional offenses and arrest data
for those crimes and the ones above.
The UCR program is a work in progress, and about 37.1 percent
of all law enforcement agencies participated in it. More agencies are
transitioning from the traditional summary reporting system to
incident-based systems. They hope that this will lead to better
understanding and crime solving, more informed policing decisions.
To this effect, they are intensifying their outreach to
local, state, federal and tribal agencies to make the transition.
Agencies can obtain and implement incident-based systems and also access
to online training resources.
One aspect of crime that has everyone worried is the rise of hate crimes. Anti-black crime is still an overwhelming reality. It is also the most commonly reported type of racially motivated crime.
The 2016 data shows a
distinct rise over the year — especially crimes against Muslims, which
saw the biggest rise with a 19 percent increase from the year before.
Anti-white hate crimes accounted for 20 percent of all hate crimes.
Agencies admit that the hate crime reports are not foolproof.
There are information gaps since many such crimes are often
under-reported by both victims and police. The FBI report shows that
hate crimes spiked around the 2016 election period.
Bambi Majumdar has been writing for various industries for more
than 17 years. She has contributed articles to The Economic Times, the
leading financial daily of India, among others. She loves research,
business analysis, SEO, brand strategy and knowledge management, which
paves the way for a steep learning curve.