The horrific mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas over the weekend represents just the latest in a series of brutal gun massacres that have occurred across the United States. Between Sutherland Springs, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando and the tragic events in Las Vegas barely over a month ago, three of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred in the last two years.
Mass shootings like the one over the weekend tend to receive the greatest press coverage, but they only represent a tiny fraction of the violence that occurs in most major cities over the course of a given year. The FBI reported Monday that crime levels rose once again in 2016. This marks the second consecutive year rates have risen, following nearly two decades of steady declines. There were 1.2 million violent crimes reported in 2016, up 4.1% from 2015. Rising crime in just a few major cities largely drove the spike in violence nationwide.
> Violent crime rate: 1,106 per 100,000
> 2016 murders: 765
> Poverty rate: 22.3%
> Unemployment rate: 6.5%
Chicago has recently become a symbol of urban crime in the United States after the murder rate spiked by nearly 50% last year. There were 765 murders in the Windy City in 2016, more than twice than in New York City — a city with three times the population. President Donald Trump suggested that if conditions did not improve in Chicago he “will send in the Feds!” Through mid-September, there have already been over 500 homicides in the city, putting it on track to match or surpass last year’s total.
Murder is only one part of Chicago’s violence problem. There were over 30,000 violent crimes in the city last year, or over 1,100 for every 100,000 people. Over half of these crimes were incidents of aggravated assault.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed violent crime rates in major U.S. cities from the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report. Violent crime includes all offenses involving force or threat of force and is broken into four categories: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. For every 100,000 U.S. residents, 386 violent crimes were committed in 2016.
One reason behind the violence in these cities — which at a rate of well over 1,000 cases per 100,000 people makes them among the most dangerous in the world — is weak police-community relationships.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., John Roman, a senior fellow with the non-partisan research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, said, “ a community that has demonstrated in the streets, that doesn’t trust the police the way it used to” — places like Chicago, Baltimore, and San Bernardino — “… people won’t come forward as witnesses, they won’t talk to the police about why the violence is occurring.” In such conditions, Roman explained, crime tends to escalate.