Speed Reads

hands up, don't shoot

FBI: Violent crime is down, but police killing civilians is up

According to new data released by the FBI this week, violent crime rates in America continue their steady but dramatic decline, ongoing since 1994. There were 1.16 million overall incidents of violent crime in 2013, which is the lowest total since 1978, when the population was just 222 million (compared to today's 317 million). Reports of negligent manslaughter were the lowest since 1968.

But there's one type of violence that is bucking the trend: civilian deaths at the hands of police. The FBI tallied 461 felony suspects killed by police in 2013, the highest total in two decades. And while FBI data is adequate to demonstrate a rising trend in police killings, it is notoriously incomplete: The data is all self-reported by police departments using a wide variety of methodologies, and it only includes felony suspects. One estimate based on media reports puts the number of civilians killed by police in 2013 as high as 1,700.

National statistics on the number of people who experience non-lethal violence at the hands of police are also unavailable.