NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Crime Levels Held Steady In 2000

May 31, 2001

The number of serious crimes committed in the U.S. remained virtually unchanged between 1999 and 2000, according to preliminary data from the FBI. By comparison, overall crime fell by 7 percent from 1998 to 1999 -- and had fallen by similarly large amounts consistently since 1992.

Some experts suggest that the variety of law enforcement strategies that helped reduce the high levels of crime in the late 1980s and early 1990s may have achieved their maximum benefit -- and the trend has finally run its course. But other criminologists caution that one year's statistics do not necessarily make a trend.

The question is whether crime rates are flattening out, or will head higher.

  • The number of arrests for homicide declined by 1.1 percent compared to 1999 -- but arrests for rape were up 0.7 percent.
  • Arrests for burglary dropped 2.1 percent -- but arrests for motor vehicle theft jumped 2.7 percent.
  • In cities with populations of more than 1 million, crime fell overall by 0.5 percent -- but in cities with populations of 100,000 to 250,000, it rose 0.5 percent.
  • Suburban counties showed an increase in overall crime of 0.7 percent -- but rural counties had a decrease of 0.8 percent.

Experts say that such see-saw figures establish no pattern, and preclude the possibility of predicting where crime is headed in the future.

Source: Fox Butterfield, "U.S. Crime Figures Were Stable in '00 After 8-Year Drop," New York Times, May 31, 2001.


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