The Most Dangerous Cities in America, 2012

Michael B. Sauter et al., Yahoo! News, June 12, 2012

New FBI data shows that violent crime rates are improving across America, but among cities with the highest crime problems, murder rates continued to rise in 2011. The FBI finds that violent crime dropped 4% in 2011, compared with a 5.5% drop in 2010. Nationally, the murder rate fell 1.9% from 2010, and robbery, forcible rape and assault fell 4% each.

Yet a 24/7 Wall St. review of 2011 FBI crime data shows that violent crime rose in more than half of the cities that have among the highest rates in the country. In seven of the 10 cities, murder rates increased. In eight of the 10, burglary went up.

Strained budgets are forcing police layoffs that many cities cannot afford to make. More than half of local police departments that responded to a national survey reported cuts in the 2011 fiscal year, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, an organization of police executives from across the country. Many are cutting police forces through planned layoffs and attrition. More than half of the cities with the highest violent crime rates are cutting law enforcement budgets and police forces as well. However, unlike the national picture, the situation is worse for these cities, which depend on tax bases that are shrinking faster than most.

The cities with the highest crime rates tend to have particularly high poverty rates, high unemployment and low median income. Two of the worst-off cities, Flint and Detroit, Mich., both have had well-publicized budget woes. Flint was taken over by an emergency city manager after failing to pay its bills in 2011. Detroit is facing similar budget problems and recently came to a temporary oversight agreement with the state.

While the Detroit Police Department reported no budget cuts for fiscal year 2012, the city is planning a 15% cut next year. Detroit also has one of the highest crime rates in the country.


Based on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 U.S. cities with populations of 100,000 or more with the highest rates of violent crime per 1,000 residents. {snip}

These are the five cities with the highest rates of violent crime.

5. Memphis, Tenn.

Violent crimes per 1,000: 15.8

Population: 652,725

2011 murders: 117

Median income: $37,045

Unemployment rate: 11.1%


4. Oakland, Calif.

Violent crimes per 1,000: 16.8

Population: 395,317

2011 murders: 104

Median income: $49,190

Unemployment rate: 15.6%


3. St. Louis, Mo.

Violent crimes per 1,000: 18.6

Population: 320,454

2011 murders: 113

Median income: $32,688

Unemployment rate: 11.7%


2. Detroit, Mich.

Violent crimes per 1,000: 21.4

Population: 713,239

2011 murders: 344

Median income: $25,787

Unemployment rate: 19.9%


1. Flint, Mich.

Violent crimes per 1,000: 23.4

Population: 102,357

2011 murders: 52

Median income: $22,672

Unemployment rate: 18.9%



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