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FBI Crime Stats Show Homicides Slowed in 2021, But Fewer Agencies Provide Numbers

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The rise in murders in the U.S. slowed in 2021, increasing just 4 percent last year after surging nearly 30 percent in 2020, while overall violent crimes dropped 1 percent for the year, reports Zusha Elinson for the Wall Street Journal.

However, national crime estimates for 2021 are based on unusually low participation by local law-enforcement agencies, with only roughly 65 percent of law-enforcement agencies submitting at least partial data to the new National Incident-Based Reporting System in 2021, compared with 95 percent in recent years.

Law-enforcement agencies have been slow to switch over to the new system and agencies in three of the most-populous states—California, Florida and New York—didn’t report figures, including departments in New York City and Los Angeles.

According to Priya Krishnakumar for CNN, only 52 percent of all agencies submitted a full year’s worth of data. The data collection system, called NIBRS (National Incident Based Reporting System), requires greater detail in logging crimes, which the FBI said has lowered participation rates and, as a result, the 2021 report relies heavily on estimates.

The new report estimates an overall decline in violent crime by 1 percent from 2020, driven largely by reductions in the robbery rate, which declined by 8.9 percent.

The FBI announced that it was transitioning away from its previous data reporting system, the UCR Summary Reporting System (SRS) in 2015, estimating then that they expected an initial participation rate of 75 percent.

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