Debunking Donald Trump's Claims About Crime In America

Is America more dangerous than it has ever been?

Donald Trump is our president-elect now and we all have to deal with that. We've now had some time since the election to process our new future, and it's about time we start taking some of the claims he made on his campaign somewhat seriously. Let's take a look at what The Donald had said about crime — keeping in mind that plenty of his statements were patently untrue.

A report from The Washington Post back in July delves deep into a lot of some of Trump's pre-debate rhetoric. “[President Barack Obama] … has made America a more dangerous environment than frankly I have ever seen, and anybody in this room, has ever watched or seen,” Trump had said. In some ways this is true, in most others it is not: "While it is true that violent crime has increased, in some fashion, in some places, in recent memory, crime rates show that it is simply untrue that the country is more dangerous than it has been at any time during Trump’s seven decades. Crime remains far lower than it was just a few decades ago ... [Yet] there have been recent — and still unexplained — increases in violent crime."

During the debates, Trump made repeated claims about crimes in "inner cities" as well — although it seems increasingly clear that Trump isn't sure what an "inner city" actually is. "We have a situation where we have inner cities, African-Americans, Hispanics are living in hell because it's so dangerous," Trump said at the presidential debate at Hofstra University. This too is largely untrue, and not only because of Trump's conflation of "inner cities" with non-white populations. 

More specifically (according to ABC News): "Trump frequently says that there have been more than 3,000 shootings so far in Chicago this year." Attorney General Loretta Lynch analyzed this claim: “There was an overall increase in violent crime last year, making clear what each of us already knows — that we still have so much work to do,” she said in September after the release of the FBI's Uniform Crime Report. “But the report also reminds us of the progress that we are making. It shows that in many communities, crime has remained stable or even decreased from the historic lows reported in 2014. And it is important to remember that while crime did increase overall last year, 2015 still represented the third-lowest year for violent crime in the past two decades.”

Similarly, Trump has repeatedly posted blatantly incorrect statistics about crime on Twitter. This image was circulated by him back in 2015:

Almost nothing about it makes any damn sense. From Politifact: "None of the numbers are supported by official sources. The figures on black-on-white homicides and white-on-white homicides are wildly inaccurate. And, as several news organizations quickly noted, the 'Crime Statistics Bureau' doesn’t exist. We looked for that agency as well and the closest we found in San Francisco were a number of crime scene clean-up services." More importantly, stats of black-on-black crime and white-on-white crime are actually more identical than not.

And of course, there is Trump's famous and abhorrent claim about Hispanics crossing the border to commit crimes: "When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best ... They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” This is also rather easy to counter: "A range of studies show there is no evidence immigrants commit more crimes than native-born Americans. In fact, first-generation immigrants are predisposed to lower crime rates than native-born Americans," says another The Washington Post article.

These are just a handful of examples of Trump's rhetoric on the issues — but they reflect a greater trend in his thinking. It should be no surprise that Trump uses vague and innacurate claims and statistics to invoke fear (usually of minorities) in the hearts of his followers, thus making them even more loyal. It's hard to be hopeful that based on his largely unfounded beliefs on crime that he will be able to offer reasonable solutions to real problems in this area in the future.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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