FBI deputy director says 'violence, homicides and aggravated assaults' occurring at 'appalling rate'

More than 21,000 homicides were reported in 2020 — 4,901 more than in 2019

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FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate on Wednesday expressed concern with "violence, homicides and aggravated assaults,"  which he says are "occurring at an appalling rate" across the U.S.

Abbate gave the remarks, much of which focused on the growing number of female law enforcement officers — which he said now make up 45% of the law enforcement workforce — and their accomplishments, at an event for the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives in Miami.

He also noted, however, that the FBI is "concerned" about the threat of rising violent crime.

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate in Washington, DC, on October 26, 2021

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate in Washington, DC, on October 26, 2021 (Roberto Schmidt / AFP)

"We’re seeing a disturbing violent crime surge across the country. I know you’re seeing, it too. There’s gun violence, homicides and aggravated assaults, and are all occurring at an appalling rate, not to mention hate crimes and the persistent threat posed by violent extremists," Abbate said, citing the agency's 2020 incident-based crime data released last year, which showed a 30% jump in homicides in 2020.

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More than 21,000 homicides were reported in 2020 — 4,901 more than in 2019, the biggest leap since the 1960s. Overall violent crime —  which includes homicides, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault —  increased by 5.6 % and property crimes dropped by nearly 8%, according to FBI data

The agency compiled the figures using information voluntarily provided by nearly 16,000 of 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide. 

Law enforcement officers at the scene of a shooting at the 36th Street subway station in the Sunset Park neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

Law enforcement officers at the scene of a shooting at the 36th Street subway station in the Sunset Park neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg)

"Overall violent crime, which includes not only murder-but also assault, robbery, and rape-rose by more than 5%," Abbate noted during his Wednesday speech. 

The 2020 data also showed an additional 65,000 total violent crime incidents in 2020 compared to 2019.

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"That’s 65,000 more people victimized by violent crime than in the year before. And each one, as we all know, with families, heartbreak, and trauma," Abbate said. "Today’s violent crime situation is taking the lives of too many innocent people, tearing apart too many communities, and denying too many Americans their basic right to feel safe in their own homes and neighborhoods."

Brianna Kupfer vigil

Brianna Kupfer vigil (Fox News Digital)

He also addressed FBI data showing 73 officers who were feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2021 — nearly half of whom did not engage with their assailants before being attacked, FBI Director Christopher Wray said in January.

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The FBI is "laser-focused" on more than 50 violent crimes task forces, 175 safe streets gang ask forces, 22 safe trails task forces and more than 100 organized crime task forces, the deputy director continued.

Last year marked the deadliest for line-of-duty police and law enforcement officers since 1930, with 458 officers dying in 2021. COVID-19 was the leading cause of death and firearms-related deaths were the second-leading cause. 

NYPD wake for Wilbert Mora

NYPD wake for Wilbert Mora (Fox News Digital)

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The uptick in violence against both civilians and officers since 2020 comes after different versions of the demand to "defund" or redistribute funding from police departments to other community initiatives were popularized following the May 2020 death of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man killed by Derek Chauvin, a White police officer. Experts have suggested that rhetoric surrounding law enforcement, as well as left-learning criminal reform initiatives from progressive prosecutors, has emboldened criminals.

Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report.