During the first of three presidential debates, President Donald Trump claimed that crime rates are climbing up to 200% in New York.
“If you look at Chicago, what’s going on in Chicago, where 53 people were shot and eight died — shot; if you look at New York, where it’s going up like nobody has ever seen anything,” Trump said. “The numbers are going up 100 percent, 150 percent, 200 percent, crime. It is crazy what’s going on. And he doesn’t want to say law and order.”
But is it true that New York, along with other cites, are seeing massive waves of crime “like nobody has ever seen”?
President Donald J. Trump
Selectively true. True only in context. Partly make believe.
That depends what kind of crime the president is talking about.
Because Trump referenced Chicago shooting incidents in the sentence before, it’s fair to assume he was referencing New York City shooting incidents when he cited New York crime statistics. We’ll fact check that claim first, then compare those statistics to overall crime rates, in the case that Trump was referring to crime rates generally.
In August, the latest data available for New York City crime statistics, there was a dramatic increase in shootings fueled an alarming rise in violent crime in all boroughs except Staten Island.
According to the NYPD, there were 242 shootings in the month of August, compared to 91 in August of 2019. That represents a 166% increase. Year-to-date, through the end of August, there was an 87% spike in citywide shooting incidents. While Trump may have exaggerated the percentage increase in shooting incidents, his claim wasn’t far off.
If, on the other hand, President Trump was citing overall crime statics for New York City, then his claim was wildly inaccurate. According to the NYPD, overall crime climbed from 9,033 in August 2019 to 9,093 in August 2020, reflecting only a 0.7% increase.
The NYPD reports experiencing a drastic uptick in violent shootings, but decreases in rape, hate crimes, and grand larceny. It’s fair to assume Trump was referring to the shootings.
The statistics President Trump cited in Chicago are also true. Over Labor Day weekend alone, CBS News Chicago reported at least 53 people shot, and 8 people killed due to gun violence.
It’s clear that cities including Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia are experiencing surges in violent crime, specifically gun violence. An August review of crime statistics among the nation’s 50 largest cities by the Wall Street Journal found that homicides were up 24% this year, “signaling a new public-safety risk unleashed during the coronavirus pandemic, and amid recession and a national backlash against police tactics.”
However, The Wall Street Journal reports “the murder rate is still low compared with previous decades, and other types of serious crime have dropped in the past few months.”
President Trump is right to highlight the alarming trend of increased gun violence in American cities. But sadly, it’s not something that “nobody’s ever seen.”
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