Murder and violent crime rates increased significantly in 2016, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation records released on Tuesday.
The agency's Crime in the United States report shows an increase of 3.4 percent in the violent crime rate from last year and a 8.2 percent increase in the murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate. It shows the violent crime rate, at 386.3 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants, is the highest since 2012. The murder rate, at 5.3 per 100,000, is the highest it has been since 2008. The same is true for rape with 29.6 per 100,000. The aggravated assault rate, at 248.5 per 100,000, is the worst it has been since 2010.
Property crime saw a modest decrease in 2016 the report shows. With a rate of 2,450.7 property crime incidents per 100,000 inhabitants, 2016 had the lowest property crime rate since at least 1997. The burglary rate and the larceny rate were at all-time lows in 2016. The motor vehicle theft rate rose to its highest levels since 2010 but was still about half of 1997's rate.
The weapons most likely to be used to commit murder remained relatively unchanged. Of those identified by law enforcement, handguns remained the most popular weapon used in homicides followed by knives, then hands and fists. Blunt objects, rifles, shotguns, narcotics, fire, strangulation, and asphyxiation round out the top 10 most popular murder weapons.
A single person was murdered with explosives in 2016, according to the FBI report.
Handguns were also the most popular weapon used in justifiable homicides committed in self-defense by either law enforcement or private citizens. Nearly every homicide that was determined to be justifiable in the FBI report involved somebody defending themselves with a firearm.
Despite the recent surge in violent crime and murder, 2016 still remained relatively peaceful when compared with the 1990s. In 1994 the murder rate was 42 percent higher at 9 murders per 100,000 inhabitants than 2016's rate of 5.3 per 100,000. Similarly, 1994's violent crime rate was 45 percent higher at 713.6 per 100,000 than 2016's rate of 386.3 per 100,000.
The FBI's Crime in the United States report is compiled from information voluntarily submitted by more than 16,000 law enforcement agencies from across the country. It is released on an annual basis.
"In law enforcement, we must be accountable to the people we serve. To be accountable, we must be transparent," FBI director Chris Wray said in a statement. "We are transparent when we share data and the circumstances surrounding crime rates, and incidents involving law enforcement's use of force. Information that is accurate, accessible, and complete enhances and informs conversations about policing."
Wray encouraged law enforcement agencies to be as transparent as possible in reporting their activities to the public and urged more to participate in the agency's new National Incident-Based Reporting System, which the FBI plans to standardize in the coming years. He said providing the public with the most accurate and up-to-date information on crime throughout the country is a priority for the agency.
"We must continue to be transparent to the citizens we serve," he said. "We must get beyond anecdotal evidence and collect more comprehensive data so that we have a clearer and more complete picture of crime in the United States. We need everyone on board to make this happen. The more complete the data, the better we can inform, educate, and strengthen all of our communities."