Speaking at a GOP retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday, President Donald Trump told a group of Republican lawmakers that the murder rate in Philly is "steady, I mean just terribly increasing.”
That is not true.
According to statistics from the Philadelphia Police Department, there were 277 murders in 2016 compared with 280 murders in 2015. Over a five year period, murders were down 19%. And over a ten year period, murders were down 41%.
In response to Trump, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney put out a statement calling the president's "false statements" about the murder rate in Philly "an insult to the men and women of the Philadelphia police force—the very same men and women who are working long hours today to ensure his safety."
"Our police officers have worked tirelessly and with great personal sacrifice to get Philadelphia’s crime rate down to its lowest point in forty years, while also successfully implementing reforms to strengthen police-community relations and uphold the rights of all our residents," Kenney said.
"Our homicides are, in fact, slowly declining, and while we are not satisfied with even our current numbers, we are handicapped by Republican refusal to enact any kind of common sense gun control and by their obsession with turning our police officers into ICE agents - which will prevent immigrants from coming forward to report crimes or provide critical witnesses statements that can put dangerous criminals behind bars," Kenney said.
Trump also claimed on Thursday that the murder rate in the country’s largest 30 cities increased by an estimated 14% in 2016. This statistic, while accurate, is misleading. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, which looked at the increase in murders last year, the record number of killings in Chicago in 2016 account for 43% of this overall increase in cities nationwide. In 2016, Chicago police said the city suffered 762 murders, more than New York and Los Angeles combined.
Trump has been vocal this week about the violence plaguing Chicago. On Tuesday, he tweeted that if the city didn’t fix the “carnage” he would “send in the Feds!” In an interview with ABC News on Wednesday night, Trump said "Afghanistan is not like what’s happening in Chicago."
During his speech on Thursday, Trump asked, “what's going on in Chicago? I said the other day, what the hell is going on?”
An audience member responded “democrats” which got a chuckle from the other politicians in the room and to which Trump responded “lot of truth to it.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat, addressed Trump’s “send in the Feds!” remark Tuesday night. In an interview, Emanuel said, “There’s a lot the federal government can do,” giving examples such as federal help tracking illegal guns, more federal gun prosecutions, passing new federal gun control laws, and help paying for his plan to hire more police officers.
Since the new administration took office, Trump’s team has used sketchy crime stats to tout his “law and order” agenda. In a post on the White House website titled Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community, the administration published this claim about Washington DC’s murder rate: “In our nation’s capital, killings have risen 50 percent.”
This claim evidently referenced an old statistic because, in fact, in 2016 the number of murders in the capital declined 17%. After BuzzFeed News tweeted that the post was misleading, the Trump team updated the post to say “In our nation’s capital, killings rose by 50 percent over the past four years.”