Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Violent Crime, In Perspective

Violent crime in the City of Rochester is way too high. This is common knowledge, even to nutty liberals like myself. The crime rate is viewed as one of the main reasons people decide to move from the City to the suburbs or other "safer" cities. It is also cited as one of the chief reasons many residents of the surrounding suburbs and rural areas choose not to patronize the City's restaurants or cultural destinations. I acknowledge the issue and do not disagree that we must find a way to reduce crime in our fair city. That being said, this logic is somewhat dubious. While the recently-released preliminary 2006 FBI Uniform Crime Report backs up the claim that Rochester is indeed a relatively "unsafe" city, an analysis of the data shows that we are far from the least safe city in America. Beyond that, many fast-growing, supposedly desirable cities have violent crime and/or murder rates higher than ours.

Amongst 245 cities with populations higher than 100,000, Rochester's violent crime rate ranks 27th (this particular statistic is not calculated for nine cities, including Chicago and Minneapolis, so that ranking may not be entirely accurate). Many of the usual suspects are "above" us on that list, such as Flint, St. Louis, Detroit, Memphis, and Oakland. However, a number of tourist-friendly and booming cities also have violent crime rates that exceed ours. These include such wonderful places as Orlando, Baltimore, Atlanta, Nashville, and Boston. On the flip side, and not surprisingly, the safest cities (those with the lowest violent crime rates) are mostly large affluent suburbs such as Irvine CA, Amherst NY, Cary NC, and Gilbert AZ. The following lists show the 25 most violent and 25 least violent large cities in America in 2006.

25 Most Violent Cities (per 100,000)

  1. Flint, MI
  2. St. Louis, MO
  3. Detroit, MI
  4. Memphis, TN
  5. Orlando, FL
  6. Oakland, CA
  7. Miami Gardens, FL
  8. Little Rock, AR
  9. Baltimore, MD
  10. Philadelphia, PA
  11. Atlanta, GA
  12. Cleveland, OH
  13. Nashville, TN
  14. Miami, FL
  15. Springfield, MA
  16. St. Petersburg, FL
  17. Stockton, CA
  18. Washington, DC
  19. Kansas City, MO
  20. Buffalo, NY
  21. Baton Rouge, LA
  22. Birmingham, AL
  23. Boston, MA
  24. Milwaukee, WI
  25. Pompano Beach, FL

25 Least Violent Cities (per 100,000)

  1. Irvine, CA
  2. Amherst Town, NY
  3. Cary, NC
  4. Gilbert, AZ
  5. Sunnyvale, CA
  6. Provo, UT
  7. Thousand Oaks, CA
  8. Bellevue, WA
  9. Simi Valley, CA
  10. Santa Clara, CA
  11. Centennial, CO
  12. Arvada, CO
  13. Glendale, CA
  14. Carrollton, TX
  15. Overland Park, KS
  16. Sterling Heights, MI
  17. Norman, OK
  18. Huntington Beach, CA
  19. Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  20. Scottsdale, AZ
  21. Corona, CA
  22. Orange, CA
  23. Peoria, AZ
  24. Coral Springs, FL
  25. Richardson, TX

While similar to the violent crime rate, the murder rates for the full list of 254 cities with more than 100,000 in population does shift. Rochester, the great marksmen that we are, moves up a few notches to #22. America's most murderous big cities include all the familiar places with some fun exceptions. There were nine large places in the USA that did not register a single murder last year, including two "real" cities (i.e., not suburbs): Ann Arbor MI and Fort Collins CO. The following are lists of the Top 25 Most Murderous and Least Murderous cities in the USA.

25 Most Murderous Cities (per 100,000)

  1. Gary, IN
  2. Detroit, MI
  3. Flint, MI
  4. Birmingham, AL
  5. Baltimore, MD
  6. Richmond, CA
  7. Richmond, VA
  8. New Orleans, LA
  9. Newark, NJ
  10. St. Louis, MO
  11. Oakland, CA
  12. Kansas City, KS
  13. Inglewood, CA
  14. Little Rock, AR
  15. Washington, DC
  16. Cincinnati, OH
  17. Philadelphia, PA
  18. Baton Rouge, LA
  19. Buffalo, NY
  20. Kansas City, MO
  21. Dayton, OH
  22. Rochester, NY
  23. San Bernardino, CA
  24. Atlanta, GA
  25. Orlando, FL

25 Least Murderous Cities (per 100,000)

  1. Ann Arbor, MI
  2. Arvada, CO (tied for #1)
  3. Cary, NC (tied for #1)
  4. Centennial, CO (tied for #1)
  5. Fort Collins, CO (tied for #1)
  6. Naperville, IL (tied for #1)
  7. Overland Park, KS (tied for #1)
  8. Thousand Oaks, CA (tied for #1)
  9. Woodbridge Township, NJ (tied for #1)
  10. Pembroke Pines, FL
  11. Corona, CA
  12. Torrance, CA
  13. Orange, CA
  14. Sunnyvale, CA
  15. Burbank, CA
  16. Ventura, CA (tied for #15)
  17. Edison Township, NJ
  18. Glendale, CA (tied for #17)
  19. Huntington Beach, CA
  20. Garland, TX
  21. Peoria, AZ
  22. Fullerton, CA
  23. Irving, TX
  24. Coral Springs, FL
  25. Plano, TX

I only bring this up to a.) acknowledge that Rochester does have a very serious problem with violent crime and that it must be addressed if we are to ever truly revitalize our city; and, b.) to point out the hypocrisy of the area residents who say they will not enter the City of Rochester because it is so violent but have no problem taking their families to Baltimore or Orlando for vacation. And yes, Orlando's crime problem does reach into the Magic Kingdom.