The FBI reportedthat violent crime was down nationally, and in the Atlanta aea, in 2017. AJC FILE
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

FBI crime stats: Violent offenses, property crimes declined in 2017

Violent and property crimes decreased nationally and in Atlanta in 2017, according to the FBI’s annual survey of crime in the United States.

Preliminary national numbers portend a further decline this year, though not in Atlanta, where murders are up 20 percent from this time one year ago.

The 2017 stats are welcome news after the previous two years showed slight increases in violent crime. Last year, violent crime dipped 0.9 percent, a rate of 392.9 offenses per 100,000 residents. Property crime was down 3.6 percent, or 2,362 offenses per 100,000 residents — the lowest total since the late 1960s.

It was a similar story in Atlanta, where murders declined 28 percent in 2017. Burglaries and robberies also fell modestly.

Jeff Sessions , who was sworn in as U.S. attorney general in February 2017, took credit for the positive numbers, telling a law enforcement group Monday, “Those are the kind of results you get when you support law enforcement. Those are the kind of results we get when we work together.”

“If you want more shootings and more death, then listen to the ACLU, Black Lives Matter, or antifa,” Sessions said. “If you want public safety, then listen to the police professionals who have been studying this for 35 years.”

Murders dropped 28 percent in Atlanta in 2017 compared to the year before. Robberies fell 26 percent, burglaries 22 percent and aggravated assaults dropped by six percent.

Interestingly, more people were shot in Atlanta in 2017 (512) than in 2016 (499). Police seized 238 more guns from the streets in 2017.

Baltimore remains America’s most dangerous city with a population greater than 500,000, recording 342 homicides in 2017, a staggering rate of 56 murders per 100,000 people — more than double Atlanta’s rate. It was even worse in St. Louis, with a population of around 300,000 and a murder rate of 66 per 100,000 people.

But there was some good news for America’s urban centers. According to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy and law institute, murder rates dropped 8.1 percent in the country’s biggest cities.

The Brennan Center is forecasting a similar drop in 2018, projecting the murder rate in America’s 30 biggest cities to drop 7.6 percent.

Atlanta is unlikely to see a decrease in murders in 2018 but crime overall is down one percent. Still, it’s not even Georgia’s most dangerous city.

That would be Albany, with a population of 73,209. They reported 22 murders in 2017 for a violent crime rate of 726.6 offenses per 100,000 residents.

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