Well this is certainly going to be awkward. As we’ve watched the gang violence, shootings and other criminal activity sweeping through several of the nation’s largest cities, Democrats have attempted to downplay the failures of the administrations running these urban areas by reminding everyone that crime rates are still falling. (Try telling that to the families of the deceased in Chicago, Baltimore and elsewhere.) Up until 2014 – the last year which we had complete records for – that was still true. The national average was still dropping, albeit much more slowly than in the past. But now the FBI has finished compiling the numbers for 2015 and guess what? That’s no longer true. The national average for violent crimes is going back up. (Reuters)

Violent crime in the United States increased in 2015 but remained far below peak levels of the 1990s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Monday as presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump prepared for a debate that is likely to focus on public safety.

The FBI’s annual report showed that the prevalence of murder, rape and assault edged up last year after decreasing for decades.

At 372.6 incidents per 100,000 people, the 2015 violent-crime rate is higher than the 2014 rate of 361.6 but well below the levels of the last decade, which never dipped below 400. The increase was most pronounced in big cities, the report found.

Rapes and assaults were both up, but the big number everyone was looking at was, of course, murder. How much was the increase? In 2014 there were an estimated 14,164 murders in the United States. Last year, according to the FBI, there were 15,696. That’s an increase of more than one thousand five hundred in a single year.

The real tragedy here is that the overall crime rate in many regions is still falling or at least holding steady. That’s because it’s a very large country with plenty of rural and suburban areas where crime is still being held down and law enforcement isn’t so severely challenged. Most of the increase is coming from the same cities we discuss here on a regular basis and the shift is now great enough to turn around the progress we’ve made across the nation on average. How much of this is a result of the “chill wind” which James Comey warned of last year, otherwise known as the Ferguson Effect? That’s impossible to measure, but we clearly need leadership which is ready to support law enforcement and get this trend moving back in the right direction.

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