President Donald Trump told a group of sheriffs on Tuesday that the murder rate in the U.S. was the highest in 45 to 47 years when in fact the rate remains near its lowest point in half-a-century.
“The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right?" Trump said at a meeting with the National Sheriffs Association, a group that represents thousands of sheriffs around the country. "Did you know that? Forty-seven years. I used to use that. I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised. Because the press doesn’t tell it like it is. Wasn’t to their advantage to say that. But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years.”
According to FBI statistics, the U.S.'s 2015 murder rate was 4.9 homicides per 100,000 residents, which did increase from 4.4 in 2014. But those numbers are far from the country's all-time highs of 10.2 per 100,000 residents in 1980. That rate fluctuated throughout the 1980s but has been steadily declining since the 1990s, hitting the lowest rate since the 1950s in 2014. FBI figures for 2016 have not yet been released.
The murder rate in a number of cities, however, has been ticking up, something President Trump routinely discussed on the campaign trail. That increase in the homicide rate between 2014 and 2015, rather than the rate itself, is the largest in almost 50 years.