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In Meeting With Sheriffs, Trump Repeats False Murder Rate Statistic

President Trump speaks during a meeting with county sheriffs at the White House on Tuesday.
Evan Vucci
President Trump speaks during a meeting with county sheriffs at the White House on Tuesday.

At a roundtable meeting with county sheriffs on Tuesday morning, President Trump repeated a false statistic about the U.S. murder rate that he repeatedly deployed on the campaign trail.

On multiple occasions Trump has suggested the murder rate is at a historic high, a claim that has been repeatedly debunked. In fact, the murder rate is currently at less than half its peak.

But here's what Trump said to the county sheriffs at the White House on Tuesday:

"... the murder rate in our country is the highest it's been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years. I used to use that — I'd say that in a speech and everybody was surprised, because the press doesn't tell it like it is. It wasn't to their advantage to say that. But the murder rate is the highest it's been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years."

According to the FBI, the murder rate for 2015, the last year for which data are available, was 4.9 per 100,000 people.

Every year between 1965 and 2010, the FBI reported a higher rate than that.

In some cases, it was muchhigher. In 1974, 1980, 1981 and 1991, the murder rate was at least twice as high as the 2015 rate.

Then it dropped dramatically: From 2010 to 2014, the murder rate reached 50-year lows, dropping from 4.8 out of 100,000 down to 4.4.

Last year, the FBI recorded an increase — back up to 4.9. As NPR reported, that was a one-year rise of 11 percent.

Trump repeated inaccurate statements about the murder rate several times on the campaign trail. But he got it basically right in his victory stump speech, when he noted that "the murder rate has experienced its largest increase in 45 years" — as we noted in our fact check, that increase was, in fact, the biggest in 44 years.

But he got it wrong again at the sheriffs' gathering. Even with an 11 percent annual increase, murder rates remain lower than at almost any point in the last 47 years.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.