[Vision2020] Cities Where Crime Is Soaring

Kenneth Marcy kmmos1 at frontier.com
Thu Feb 9 07:53:48 PST 2017

Cities Where Crime Is Soaring


The violent crime rate in the United States rose slightly in 2015, from 
362 incidents per 100,000 people in 2014 to 373 incidents per 100,000 
Americans. Still, the long-term trend of violent crime nationwide has 
been one of steady improvement. In 1996, there were 637 violent crimes 
per 100,000 Americans, and the rate has declined nearly every year since.

Violent crime is a broad category that includes rape, robbery, 
aggravated assault, and murder. While these crimes have become less and 
less common nationwide, some metro areas have reported a dramatic spike 
in violent crime. In Monroe, Louisiana, the violent crime rate increased 
from 640 reported incidents per 100,000 people in 2011, which was 16th 
highest at the time, to 1,160 incidents per 100,000 people in 2015 — the 
highest. Based on figures published by the FBI, these are the 
metropolitan areas with the greatest increases in the violent crime rate.

Violent and nonviolent crime rates can move independently from one 
another, as factors driving up burglary and theft may have little impact 
on murder and assault. Still, there appears to be some relationship, as 
the majority of the 15 cities on this list where violent crime soared 
either reported a similar rise in property crime, or property crime was 
already a serious problem in the area. While property crime nationwide 
fell by 11.7% over the past five years, it increased in 11 of the 15 
metropolitan areas on this list.

*Click here to see the cities where crime is soaring. 

Large five-year increases in violent crime rates tended to be more 
common in metro areas that started as relatively safe places. Of the 15 
metro areas on this list, nine had violent crime rates below the 
national rate of 387.1 reported incidents per 100,000 Americans in 2011. 
Each metro area on this list reported at least a 37% spike in violent 
crimes since, and now all but two have a higher violent crime rate than 
the nation as a whole.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., John Roman, senior fellow at the 
independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, 
explained that violent crime rates go hand in hand with several other 
socioeconomic measures. Roman explained that violence and poor economic 
conditions are cyclical and can feed into each other. There is much 
evidence that in areas without economic opportunities, residents — young 
men in particular — are more likely to turn to drug dealing and other 
kinds of crime.

Roman added that the relationship between economic development and crime 
is not one-way. Businesses and potential residents are less likely to 
choose to locate to a high crime neighborhood. “[You] really need to do 
something about crime and violence before you can see economic growth in 
a city,” Roman said.

Perhaps counterintuitively, violence reduction is often not the product 
of increased policing and crime repression strategies. According to 
Roman, safe cities such as New York “have introduced hundreds of 
programs and policies — all of which are designed to improve the 
community instead of trying to improve the community by suppressing 

Community improvement is crucial in crime reduction. “Cities with less 
segregation, with more diverse income growth and economic growth, and 
more gentrification” are the same cities reporting declines in violence, 
Roman explained. Meanwhile, economically and racially segregated cities 
report persistent higher levels of violence.

Based on figures published by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, 24/7 Wall 
St. identified the 15 metropolitan statistical areas where crime rates 
rose the most from 2011 to 2015, the most recent available year of data. 
In order to be considered, areas had to retain the same geographic 
boundaries during the period covered, and they had to retain consistent 
reporting practices. Additionally, we reviewed annual unemployment 
figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2011 and 2015, as well 
as unemployment figures from December 2016. We also considered data from 
the Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey on household income, 
educational attainment rates, and poverty.

These are the 15 U.S. cities where violent crime is soaring.

Missoula, Montana

*2. Missoula, MT*
*> 5-yr. violent crime rate change:* +69.9%
*> 2011 violent crime rate:* 250.3 per 100,000
*> 2015 violent crime rate:* 425.2 per 100,000
*> Murders in 2015:* 4

Missoula, Montana is no longer the safe city it once was. Just five 
years ago, the metro area’s violent crime rate of 250 incidents per 
100,000 residents trailed the national rate of 387 incidents per 100,000 
people. Since then, the violent crime rate has climbed to 425 incidents 
per 100,000 residents, a 69.9% spike, and it is now considerably higher 
than the comparable national rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 people.

Some crime in the metro area has likely been drug related. Recently, 
federal law enforcement officials busted a methamphetamine trafficking 
ring in the metro area following a two year investigation. In addition 
to 11 pounds of methamphetamine, federal agents confiscated nearly 70 
weapons, including grenade launchers and assault rifles, as well as 
illegal silencers and thousands of rounds of ammunition.



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