Fact check debunks Trump’s false claim of New York hitting a murder record; it’s nowhere close

On Thursday, ex-President Donald Trump made a false statement by claiming that New York’s murder and violent crime rates have hit an all-time high.

In a recent social media post, former president Donald Trump attacked New York Attorney General Letitia James for her civil fraud lawsuit against him. Trump’s comments came as the trial began on Monday. He denounced James, the case, and the judge presiding over the trial before going on to claim that murders and violent crime had hit unimaginable records in New York. Trump’s statement is concerning, given that it appears to conflate two separate issues and detract from the serious nature of the lawsuit against him.

It’s important to note that Trump’s assertion about crime rates in New York is simply not accurate. The numbers simply don’t support his claim that murder and violent crime are at record highs in either the state or the city.

It’s no secret that Trump has a habit of making baseless accusations about crime “records” as a way of discrediting prosecutors who are investigating him. However, these claims have been proven to be false time and time again.

During an investigation led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that resulted in a criminal indictment against Trump in March, he made a false claim that violent crime in Manhattan was at a record high. Similarly, after Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis secured an August indictment against Trump for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, he falsely claimed that murder and violent crime in Atlanta had reached unprecedented levels.

Upon examining the statistics, it becomes clear that his recent assertion is unfounded.

According to official figures published on the state website, New York recorded 791 murders in 2022, which is not close to the record high. Crime analyst and consultant Jeff Asher, co-founder of the firm AH Datalytics, provided CNN with past official figures revealing that New York recorded 2,605 murders in 1990, when the population was smaller.

According to Asher’s data, New York state had over 2,000 murders recorded in 11 years from 1979, apart from 1990. Moreover, New York witnessed more murders than the current year in every year from 2000 to 2008, as stated in the official report by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

According to the fact-check, Trump’s statement about the murder rate in a particular state was partially accurate. While it is true that the murder rate for 2022 was worse than the figure for 2019, which was 568 murders, it was misleading to suggest that the 2022 figure was an “unimaginable record.” Additionally, it is important to note that the murder rate decreased in both 2020 and 2021. As per a CNN report, there was a spike in murders across the country in 2020.

According to Asher’s data, the state of 2022 reported its highest number of violent crimes, reaching 84,714, since 2005. However, this number is still not a record-breaking figure. In fact, the state experienced over 200,000 violent crimes annually from 1989 to 1992. It also reported more than 100,000 violent crimes in each of the years between 1979 and 2000.

It appears that Trump was referring to crime in New York state as a whole, when he made his claim about “record” crime while criticizing the state attorney general. However, he did not specify which specific area he was referring to. It’s important to mention that even if he was talking about New York City alone, his assertion would still be incorrect.

According to official records, New York City saw a total of 438 murders in 2022. However, the good news is that the murder rate has decreased by approximately 11% in 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. It is worth noting that the number of murders was significantly higher in the past, with 2,262 cases recorded in 1990 and 649 in 2001 – the last year of Rudy Giuliani’s mayoral term, which President Trump has praised for its crime-fighting efforts.

According to recent data, the instances of violent crimes including rape, robbery, and felony assault in the city for 2022 and 2023 so far are not anywhere near record-breaking levels.

Let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge that it’s not reasonable to attribute crime trends solely to the actions of one state attorney general. Whether the trends are positive or negative, it’s important to avoid placing blame or giving credit to any individual in isolation.

Determining the exact causes of an increase or decrease in crime is a notoriously difficult task, as various economic, social, and political factors come into play. Additionally, it is worth noting that the responsibility for prosecuting the majority of crimes lies with local prosecutors rather than the attorney general.

Asher commented back in April when President Trump was criticizing Bragg’s handling of crime in Manhattan. In response, Asher emphasized the complexity of these systems and how it’s unfair to place all the blame on one person or attribute all success to one person. He explained that these systems are often affected by multiple factors, some of which can be unpredictable and difficult to explain. It’s much simpler to point fingers and place blame on a single individual, but the reality is more complex than that.

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