The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

2014 was the least violent year in decades

Ahmesha Ross, 23, of St. Louis, sports her new "Love" necklace outside Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church before the funeral of Michael Brown on Aug. 25, 2014, in St. Louis. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The FBI's latest crime statistics, released Monday, show that overall violent crime rates fell again in 2014, reaching their lowest level in at least 20 years. "The violent crime rate declined 1.0 percent compared to the 2013 rate, and the property crime rate declined 5.0 percent," the FBI concluded.

Murder? Down. Robbery? Down. Larceny and burglary? Down and down. Some other indicators were more mixed: The rates of rape and aggravated assault ticked up slightly, so it's worth keeping a close eye on these trends. But overall, crime was down. 2014 was a year of unprecedented safety in the United States.

These numbers only go through 2014, so it's possible the 2015 data, to be released next year, may tell a different story. But given how low overall crime rates are, even a bit of an uptick in the crime rates wouldn't be too much of a cause for concern. As you can see in the chart, the violent crime rate actually rose for a few years in the mid-2000s, only to continue falling in subsequent years.

As of now, though, there's no indication that's happening again. Yes, some cities are seeing increased homicide counts this year. But in other cities, homicide is flat, and in others still murder rates are dropping. And killings of police officers were down 25 percent in the first half of 2015 compared with 2014. So much for that "war on cops."

As University of California at Berkeley criminologist Franklin Zimring recently told my colleague Max Ehrenfreund, "Crime and violence in most big cities in the United States are pretty much as they've been lately. Boy, is that good news."