Homicide Trends in Eight US Cities: Project Overview and Design
Sharp declines in homicides have been recorded in some major cities of the United States, including, for example, a 31% decline in New York City's homicide rate between 1990 and 1994. The downward trend is by no means universal. Indeed, between 1990 and 1994, the total number of homicides in the United States reflected little change (23,440 homicides recorded in 1990 and 23,310 in 1994) and greatly exceeded the most recent low of 18,980 recorded in 1985. Further, in 41 of 78 cities with populations greater than 200,000, the per capita homicide rate in 1994 exceeded the rate in 1985. The focus on national trends, and on trends in major cities such as New York, thus masks a more complex picture that has substantial variation. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has initiated a series of research projects to identify and examine factors associated with violence—and changes in violence—in U.S. cities. In this article, we describe one of these projects, the “Homicide Trends in Eight U.S. Cities Project,” which is a study of policy, community, and individual factors hypothesized to influence local homicide trends.