Every state has its good and bad cities, the places locals like to visit and the places they avoid the moment the sun ducks below the skyline. Many factors contribute to crime rates being higher or lower in certain areas, with time also playing it’s part; a city that’s crime rate is high today may have been a model city 20 years ago, or will be one 20 years from now. For 2014 though, here are the cities with the best and worst crime rates across the United States (data courtesy of FBI’s 2013 crime statistics):
10 Most Violent Cities in the U.S.
10. Birmingham, Alabama
Violent crimes per 100,000 citizens: 1,345
2013 murders: 63
Birmingham’s violent crime rate was the 10th highest in the country in 2013, which is actually down from the city’s 2012 numbers. With aggravated assault being the number one violent crime committed in the city, officials are citing low education levels and a 30.7% poverty rate as some of the causes.
9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,364
2013 murders: 104
Unlike Birmingham, Milwaukee’s crime rate has been steadily going up in recent years, though many experts are proposing a theory that Milwaukee’s crime rate hasn’t actually gone up; rather, police officers are thought to have misreported crimes in the past which they are correctly reporting now. Still, the current crime rate gets the city #9 on the list.
8. Rockford, Illinois
Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,375
2013 murders: 19
While the murder rate is relatively low in Rockford compared to other entries on this list, it is one of only four U.S. cities to record over 1,000 aggravated assault charges per 100,000 people.
7. Baltimore, Maryland
Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,401
2013 murders: 233
Another city with a declining-but-still-high crime rate, Baltimore finds most of its violent crimes in robberies, with a murder rate only exceeded by four other U.S. cities.
6. Little Rock, Arkansas
Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,407
2013 murders: 35
For 2013, Little Rock carries the burden of having one of the highest violent crime rates in the country as well as one of the highest property crime rates, though these numbers still indicate a yearly improvement since 2010.
5. Cleveland, Ohio
Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,478
2013 murders: 55
With one of the lowest education and highest poverty rates in the country, it’s no wonder Cleveland makes the list, with robbery and home burglary being the two most crucial factors.
4. St. Louis, Missouri
Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,594
2013 murders: 120
With one of the highest murder rates in the U.S., St. Louis finds itself in a dilemma regarding violent crime. Their numbers–as has been the trend across the U.S. in recent years–have gone down, but are still alarming nonetheless.
3. Memphis, Tennessee
Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,656
2013 murders: 124
With over 7,200 aggravated assaults reported in 2013 alone, Memphis has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. Add to that the high level of property crime and the way-above-average poverty rate, and Memphis ranks among the most dangerous cities in the U.S. to live.
2. Oakland, California
Violent crimes per 100,000: 1,977
2013 murders: 90
Historically, Oakland has never been known as a safe area. With the highest robbery rate in the country, many might say Oakland will forever be a lost cause. However, recent gentrification efforts have increased awareness in the area, which may add to a steadily decreasing crime rate in the long run.
1. Detroit, Michigan
Violent crimes per 100,000: 2,072
2013 murders: 316
With the highest violent crime rate in the country and one of the highest murder rates, Detroit comes in at number one on the list of most dangerous cities in the country. Add to that the lowest household incomes and highest rate of poverty in the U.S., and it’s easy to see why Detroit also has one of the highest rate of concealed gun permit applications in the country.
10 Safest Cities in the U.S.
10. Chula Vista, California
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 232.56
Murder Rate per 100,000: 0.32
With a diverse population and expanding small business community, Chula Vista takes advantage of its proximity to the coastline to keep the crime rate low.
9. Garland, Texas
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 229.80
Murder Rate per 100,000: 0.3
Economically, being part of the Dallas/Fort Worth helps Garland stay financially viable. The city also takes a lot of interest in public works projects, spurring the economy and keeping the city looking beautiful, which helps it to keep the crime and murder rate low.
8. Irving, Texas
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 226.33
Murder Rate per 100,000: 0.13
A low unemployment rate serves to offset a median income that is lower than the national average in Irving, and the city is also home to 50 Fortune 500 companies which help to keep the city afloat financially.
7. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 169.35
Murder Rate per 100,000: 0.47
With a stable group of companies providing jobs to a good percentage of residents, Virginia Beach takes advantage of industry, as well as the military installations peppering the area and a lively tourist economy.
6. Henderson, Nevada
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 168.90
Murder Rate per 100,000: 0.15
Though Henderson has the highest unemployment rate of any city on this list, its close proximity to Las Vegas keeps it financially out of the red. Add to that an award-winning public works initiative that keeps parks and recreation centers up and running and in good condition, and you can see how Henderson keeps its crime rate down.
5. Scottsdale, Arizona
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 147.25
Murder Rate per 100,000: 0.13
Scottsdale benefits mostly from a great economy and the age of its residents (almost 90% of residents are over 45). With a high police officer to resident ratio and low unemployment rate, Scottsdale is as safe as a city can get.
4. Fremont, California
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 139.77
Murder Rate per 100,000: 0.09
At the center of Silicon Valley in the Bay area, Fremont enjoys a lively economy due to a number of local tech companies. Add to that a high median income and socially conscious population and Fremont comes in at #4 on our list.
3. Plano, Texas
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 130.74
Murder Rate per 100,000: 2.33
A declining unemployment rate and the presence of big name companies like Frito-Lay and JC Penney keep Plano job-heavy, while a great police-to-resident ratio keeps everybody in line, making Plano an extremely safe city to live in.
2. Gilbert, Arizona
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 95.68
Murder Rate per 100,000: 2.33
A relatively low number of police officers proves that Gilbert is just efficient in its crime prevention techniques, as the city has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the country. It’s no wonder the city’s seen its population increase so much in recent years.
1. Irvine, California
Violent Crimes per 100,000: 50.57
Population: 217, 528
Murder Rate per 100,000: 0.92
Irvine owes a lot of its success as the city with the lowest crime rate in America to the fact that it started out as a planned community, developed by the Irvine Company in the 60’s. Having University of California, Irvine Campus near as the city’s largest employer doesn’t hurt either.