Violent crime in U.S. rose in 2015 but not to peak levels: FBI

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

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.

Coming on the day of the first debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the report could "be turned into political football," said Robert Smith, a research fellow at Harvard Law School, in a teleconference on Friday with other crime experts.

RELATED: Violent crime rates in the United States

Trump last week praised aggressive policing, including "stop-and-frisk" tactics that critics say unfairly target minorities.

Clinton has pushed for stricter gun control to help curb violence and has called for national guidelines on the use of force by police officers.

In 2015, there were an estimated 15,696 murders in the United States compared with an estimated 14,164 the prior year, according to the report. Last year's crime rate was still lower than in 2012 and earlier years, the FBI found.

RELATED: Most dangerous, violent cities in each state

44 PHOTOS
Most dangerous, violent cities in each state
See Gallery
Most dangerous, violent cities in each state

43. Honolulu, Hawaii had 11.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

42. Boise, Idaho had 13.5 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Charles Knowles via Shutterstock)

41. Fargo, North Dakota had 14.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Richard Cummins via Getty Images)

40. Eugene, Oregon had 15.3 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

39. Lincoln, Nebraska had 17.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by John Coletti via Getty Images)

38. Sioux Falls, South Dakota had 20.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

37. Billings, Montana had 21.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Richard Klotz via Getty Images)

36. Norfolk, Virginia had 24.5 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

35. Providence, Rhode Island had 26.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Yiming Chen via Getty Images)

34. Manchester, New Hampshire had 28.9 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

33. Louisville, Kentucky had 30.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Henryk Sadura via Getty Images)

32. South Bend, Indiana had 32.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Ilene MacDonald via Alamy)

31. Tucson, Arizona had 32.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Dennis Macdonald via Getty Images)

30. North Charleston, South Carolina had 34.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

 (Photo by Grace Beahm-Pool/Getty Images)

29. Tacoma, Washington had 36.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Chris Boswell via Getty Images)

28. Salt Lake City, Utah had 38.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

27. Des Moines, Iowa had 38.7 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

26. Pueblo, Colorado had 41.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

 Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

25. Tulsa, Oklahoma had 41.5 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

24. New Orleans, Louisiana had 42.7 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

23. Durham, North Carolina had 42.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

22. Jackson, Mississippi had 43.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Denis Jr. Tangney via Getty Images)

21. North Las Vegas, Nevada had 43.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Allan Baxter via Getty Images)

20. Wichita, Kansas had 45.5 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

19. Albuquerque, New Mexico had 48.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

18. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had 49.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

17. Buffalo, New York had 50.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty)

16. Newark, New Jersey had 50.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

15. Odessa, Texas had 51.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

14. Tallahassee, Florida had 52.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

13. Anchorage, Alaska had 53.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

12. Springfield, Massachusetts had 54.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Denis Jr. Tangney via Getty Images)

11. Atlanta, Georgia had 55.7 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Alamy)

10. Hartford, Connecticut had 55.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Denis Jr. Tangney via Getty Images)

9. Cleveland, Ohio had 61.5 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

8. Milwaukee, Wisconsin had 65.3 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Alamy)

7. Stockton, California had 67.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

6. Baltimore, Maryland had 67.7 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

5. Rockford, Illinois had 76.3 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Alamy)

4. Birmingham, Alabama had 82.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo by Sean Pavone via Alamy)

3. Detroit, Michigan had 83.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

2. Memphis, Tennessee had 84.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Shutterstock)

1. St. Louis, Missouri had 88.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

(Photo via Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Crime was highest in the southern United States, the report found. At 45.9 per 100,000 people, the murder and manslaughter rate in the region was more than twice as high as in the West, the Midwest and the Northeast, according to the FBI. Rates of rape, assault and property crime were dramatically higher as well.

FBI Director James Comey warned last year that violent crime in the United States might rise because increased scrutiny of policing tactics had created a "chill wind" that discouraged officers from using aggressive tactics.

The rise in crime has been concentrated in big cities' segregated and impoverished neighborhoods. Experts said crime there can best be fought through better community policing and alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent crime.

"We're just beginning to see a shift in mentality in law enforcement from a warrior mentality ... to a guardian mentality," Carter Stewart, a former prosecutor for the Southern District of Ohio, said on the teleconference. "I don't want us as a country to go backwards."

In Chicago, 54 more people were murdered in 2015 than the year before, a 13 percent jump in the city's murder rate, according to an April study by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice.

(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Andy Sullivan in Washington; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Phil Berlowitz)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

Cops Catch Up To A Suspicious Speeding Vehicle - And Make An Appalling Discovery Inside Cops Catch Up To A Suspicious Speeding Vehicle - And Make An Appalling Discovery Inside
Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts
If You Find One Of These In Your Yard, Don't Touch It - And Try Not To Panic If You Find One Of These In Your Yard, Don't Touch It - And Try Not To Panic