Chicago police collect evidence at a home where six people were found slain on February 4, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Murders and other violent crimes in US cities rose sharply in 2015 compared to a year earlier, according to an annual report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), fueling concerns that the nation’s more-than two-decade trend of falling crime rates may be ending.
Murders and non-negligent manslaughter increased 10.8 percent last year compared to estimates from 2014, according to the FBI report published Monday.
There were an estimated 15,696 murders in the US in 2015 compared with an estimated 14,164 the year before, and nearly three quarters of them were committed with firearms, according to the report.
Rapes and aggravated assaults increased 6.3 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively, the report said.
Overall, violent crime rose by 3.9 percent in 2015, the FBI said.
Preliminary figures released by the FBI in January had already indicated an increase in violent crime in American cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Baltimore.
"The report shows that 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," US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Monday at a summit in Little Rock, Arkansas.
"The residents of communities where violence remains a fact of daily life care little whether overall crime rates are up and down," she said. "And in the raft of data and analysis that can so often define our work, we must never forget that all of our numbers reflect the lives of real people."
Last year, FBI Director James Comey warned that violent crimes were rising partly because police officers were discouraged from using aggressive tactics, fearful of being taped on smartphones and accused of brutality.
The findings come just hours before the first election debate between US presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Robert Smith, a research fellow at Harvard Law School, said the report could "be turned into political football" by the two candidates during the debate.