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Fact check: Trump claim on violent crime

“The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century. In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone — and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher. This is not acceptable in our society.”

THE FACT CHECKER | In 2015, there was the biggest percentage jump in a single year since 1970-1971, or 45 years ago. In 2016, there was an uptick in the homicide rate in the 30 largest cities. One outlier city — Chicago — was responsible for 43.7 percent of the total increase in homicide rates in 2016. But overall, violent crime is on a decades-long decline, since the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in the early 1990s.

Crime trends can randomly fluctuate year to year. Many factors affect such rates, including the weather. This is why criminologists do not make generalizations about crime trends based on short-term comparisons of rates, such as annual or monthly changes. They consider the data over much longer periods of time — at least 10 to 15 years — to make conclusions about trends.

For example, in 2006 and 2007, the national violent crime trend increased for the first time in nine years. Democrats bemoaned the return of the crime wave, creating a political headache for the George W. Bush administration.

“After years of driving crime rates down, we’re now in reverse gear,” said then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.). “It’s time to get back to crime-fighting basics — that means more cops on the streets, equipped with the tools and resources they need to keep our neighborhoods safe.”

Then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales denied that the crime trend was reversing: “In general, it doesn’t appear that the current data reveal nationwide trends. Rather, they show local increases in certain communities. Each community is facing different circumstances, and in many places violent crime continues to decrease.”

Real-time fact-checking and analysis of Trump’s address to Congress
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress as Vice President Mike Pence (L) and House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R) (R-WI) look on on February 28, 2017 in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Trump's first address to Congress focused on national security, tax and regulatory reform, the economy, and healthcare. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Trump is headed to the Capitol tonight to deliver his first speech as president to a joint session of Congress. The speech is expected to outline budget goals and priorities.

The speech is scheduled to start at 9 p.m.; you can watch coverage starting at 8:45 p.m. here.

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