In-Depth: FBI report shows spike in Utah murders

Posted at 4:04 PM, Sep 28, 2021

The FBI's annual report, Crime in the United States, shows a spike in violent crime across the country, with the trend clear in Utah.

READ: FBI: Homicides rose by 30% in 2020, but data lacking

Utah lost 92 lives to murder in 2020, the highest number since the FBI began to tally the number in 1960. Despite that, Utah's overall murder rate is far lower than the national average with 2.9 deaths per 100,000 Utahns compared to 5.4 deaths per 100,000 Americans.

Jason Merrill, the Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Salt Lake Office of the FBI, says some of the other data showing crime increases in Utah may have other explanations.

"In Utah, we have, for example, 91 percent of the population covered in reporting from law enforcement agencies, whereas in 2019 we had 77 percent," Merrill said.

That disparity may in part explain why Utah saw a slight increase in property crimes reported when that metric decreased nationally.

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Utah police and sheriff's departments have transitioned to the FBI's system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System, for several years.

But along with following the trends on homicides, Utah also saw an increase in overall violent crime from one year to the next, also reflecting a national trend.

"I think everyone knows there's been an increase in violence, in gun violence across the country," Merrill said.