TWIN FALLS — The violent crime rate across the country rose slightly in 2015, but overall Americans were still much safer last year than most years over the past two decades. The only years the crime rates were lower were 2013 and 2014.
Idaho has a much lower crime rate than the national average but has seen an almost identical trend, with the crime rate dropping significantly over the past 15 years but rising slightly in 2015 over the previous year.
The FBI released its annual crime report last week showing there were 372.6 violent crimes per 100,000 people across the country. In 2015 in Idaho, according to statistics compiled by Idaho State Police, there were 197.2 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
Both the FBI and ISP consider violent crimes to be murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
Slight rise, but still historically low
In the U.S., despite the slight rise in 2015, the violent crime rate is way down from 1996, when the violent crime rate was 636.6. It reached a low of 361.6 in 2014 before last year’s increase.
Or put another way, in 2015 there were 56.2 million more Americans than in 1996, but there were 490,836 fewer violent crimes – the U.S. population rose by more than 21 percent in 20 years, yet there were nearly half a million fewer violent crimes.
Idaho mirrors the national trend — kind of
In Idaho, the drop has been less dramatic but still shows the state’s residents becoming safer over the past decade and a half. Since 2000, when ISP began calculating it, the violent crime rate peaked in 2002 at 256.9 and hit its low point in 2014 at 188.2.
Between 2000 and 2009, the violent crime rate in Idaho never dipped below 228.9. Between 2010 and 2015, the violent crime rate was below 200 in three out of six years, including 2015, and never rose above 209.
National murder rate up
The most striking rise in the statistics released by the FBI was the increase in the murder rate, which rose from 4.4 in 2014 to 4.9 in 2015. That’s the highest the murder rate has been since 2009, but still far lower than in 1996 when the national murder rate was 7.6 per 100,000 Americans.
The murder rate had dropped each year from 2006 to 2014 before rising last year, but it has stayed below 5 murders per 100,000 Americans since 2010.
Idaho murder rate down
There were 30 murders in Idaho in both 2014 and 2015, but accounting for population increase, the murder rate dropped from 1.9 to 1.8.
The numbers over the last decade and a half show little correlation between the national murder rate, which has steadily declined, and the Idaho murder rate, which can fluctuate greatly because of the state’s relatively small population.
In 2000, the state’s murder rate was at 1.3. Then from 2001 to 2007, it was never lower than 2, with a high of 3.3 in 2007 when there were 49 murders. Between 2008 and 2015, the murder rate has stayed at 2 or below every year.