They say you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. But that saying might need updating, considering the way Americans look at crime.
According to the numbers produced by the FBI’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, which are based on crime reporting from local law enforcement, crime is still at 30- to 40-year lows. But last year a majority of Americans said they believed there was more crime in the U.S. in 2013 than there was in 2012.
With a few minor exceptions, government statistics show serious crime has decreased nearly every year from 1994 through 2010.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, the overall violent crime rate for rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault fell from 80 victimizations per 1,000 persons in 1994 to 19 per 1,000 in 2010.
For more than a decade, the polling firm Gallup has found that the majority of Americans believe crime is up when it’s actually down and have sometimes thought it was down when crime was actually up.
In other words, agencies and commanders counting on using lower rates of crime to push for raises or more officers might have to start by convincing residents that there is, in fact, a difference between perception and reality.