Everyone wants to feel safe at home, but what if your city reports more crimes than other cities?
Does that mean your town or neighborhood is dangerous?
This is a complicated subject, and it’s one we’ve tried to examine for years. Today’s high current of civil unrest makes these questions more vital than ever. As part of our commitment to provide the most helpful and relevant information in our reports, we’ve made some changes this year.
You’ll find a deeper analysis of multiple factors that impact life in the metro communities that report the highest numbers of crime incidents.
For the purposes of this report, the terms “dangerous” and “safest” refer explicitly to crime rates as calculated from FBI crime data—no other characterization of any community is implied or intended.
Here are the 10 most dangerous metro areas in America for 2020
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Spokane-Spokane Valley, Washington
Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana
Corpus Christi, Texas
Find out the statistics for every metro area that made our list.
To determine the rankings for the most “dangerous” metro cities in America, we started with the most current FBI crime reports. This data isn’t flawless—it’s self reported by law enforcement agencies—but it’s the most extensive crime data available.
We calculated both violent and property crime rates per 1,000 residents in each metro area. Both rates were used to rank the cities. Metro areas with the highest collective violent and property crime rates landed at the bottom of the overall list, making them part of our most “dangerous” rankings. Cities with the lowest crime rates rose to the top and made it onto our “safest” metro cities list.
A snapshot of the most dangerous metro cities in America
Crime statistics are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to considering how “safe” or “dangerous” a community is.To add more depth to our examination of each metro area that ranked in the top 10 for high crime rates, we researched several additional factors:
Median income and poverty data¹
High school graduation rates¹
Household access to high-speed internet³
City budget allocations⁴
We chose these data points because we’ve noticed a correlation between socioeconomic factors and reported crime rates. To see if our observations have been on the mark, we dove into metrics that help paint a picture of the general socioeconomic climate of each metro area we ranked.
In addition to crime statistics, we looked at things like household income, access to resources like internet service, and city budget allocations.
This supplemental data wasn’t used for ranking purposes. We used it to help provide a more holistic view of the metro areas that landed on our listings.
And even though added context doesn’t tell us everything about these cities, it offers a starting point to help us compare and contrast trends in communities that consistently report low or high crime numbers.
Median income: 90% of the most dangerous metros report a median household income below the national average of $61,937. The average median income among the most dangerous metro cities is 87% lower than the national average, coming in at $54,189 annually.
Poverty line: Among the cities on our list, there’s an average of 16.3% who are living below the poverty line. And 80% of these metros are above the national average (13.1%) for people who live beneath the poverty line.
An outlier: Anchorage, Alaska—the city that reported the highest crime rates—has a median household income that’s 130% higher than the national average of $61,937. Anchorage also has a lower number of people living below the poverty line (9.6%, compared to the national average of 13.1%).
Redlining: Just over half the metro cities on our list have a known history of redlining—an action that directly impacts the resources available to people who live in areas that have been deemed “bad neighborhoods.”
Internet access: 70% of these metros have less access to high speed internet than the national average. Nationwide, 69.6% of households have high-speed internet access, compared to an average of 63.6% among the most dangerous cities. In Shreveport, only 46.2% of households have internet access.
Graduation rates: 60% of the most dangerous metro cities produce fewer high school graduates than the national average of 88.3%. Among the safest metros, that number drops to 40%.
Free and reduced lunch:⁶ 90% of the most dangerous cities on our list report a higher number of economically disadvantaged students than the national average of 52.1%—the safest metros match that 90% stat as well.
City budgets: On average, about 23% of city budgets are allocated to police and public safety in the most dangerous metros—that’s about 10 points behind the safest metro cities. The safest cities also commit three times more money to community services (9%) than in most dangerous cities (3%).
Violent crime rates: Every dangerous metro area reported higher crime rates than the national averages for both property and violent crime. On average, these metros saw 8.4 violent crime incidents per 1,000 people, compared to 3.7 nationwide.
Property crime rates: All of the most dangerous metro cities had more property crimes per 1,000 residents than the national average of 22.0. On average, there were 40.1 property crimes per 1,000—that’s almost two times more than the rest of the country.
The 10 most dangerous metro areas in America
We’ve assembled the data we gathered in our research into three tables below. For quick comparison among the cities, we grouped together similar factors such as crime rates, economic information, and access to resources.
Note: In most cases, data represented is for the most populous city within the metro area. We selected the largest city within the area as a representative sample of the entire metro area and refer to these as “anchor” cities.
1. Median income, poverty line, and high school graduation statistics
City of Albuquerque, “Fiscal Year 2020 Approved Budget,” Retrieved from FY/20 Approved Budget graph on second page, line items “Public Safety” and “Community and Cultural Engagement.” Accessed July 8, 2020.
City of Memphis, “FY2020 Adopted Operating Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Expenditures, FY2020 Adopted Budget Expenditures graph, page 114, line items “Police” and “Housing & Community Development.” Accessed July 8, 2020.
City of Wichita, “2020–2021 Adopted Budget, Vol. 1”, Retrieved from Housing & Community Services Department, page 164, line item 2020 Adopted Total Expenditures and Police Department, page 230, line item 2020 Adopted Total Expenditures. Accessed July 8, 2020.
City of Detroit, “Four-Year Financial Plan FY 2019–2022,” Retrieved from F Y2019–FY 2022 Expenditures ad Revenues by Agency Table, page A33, column FY2018–19, line items “Police” and “Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity” plus “Housing & Revitalization.” Accessed July 8, 2020.
City of Spokane, “2020 Adopted Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Revenues & Expenditures, page 4, line items “Police” and “Community & Neighborhood Svcs Division,” December 2019. Accessed July 8, 2020.
City of Shreveport, “2020 Annual Operating Budget,” Retrieved from Expenditure Detail by Department, page 51, column 2020 Budget, line item “Total Police Department,” and Community Development Special Revenue Fund, Expenditure Detail, page 360 column 2020 Budget, line item “Grand Total Expenses.” Accessed July 8, 2020.
City of Corpus Christi, “Proposed FY 2019–2020 Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Summary, page 31, column Proposed Budget 2019–2020, line items “Police” and “Health” plus “Housing and Community Development.” Accessed July 8, 2020.
City of Mobile, “Annual Budget Fiscal Year 2019,” Retrieved from General Fund Budget Summary, page 1, column FY2019 Proposed Budget, line items “Public Safety” and “Neighborhood Services” plus “Civic Engagement,” August 2018. Accessed July 8, 2020.
Provo City Corporation, “Provo City Adopted Budget FY 2021,” Retrieved from General Fund Summary on page 32, line items “Police” and “Comm & Neighborhood Srvcs” for FY2021. Accessed July 7, 2020.
City of Lancaster, “Adopted 2019 Budget,” Retrieved from General Fund Expenditure Summary on pages 2–3, line items “Public Safety” and “Economic Development & Neighborhood Revitalization for 2019 budget. Accessed July 7, 2020.
Pennsylvania Department of Education, “Public Schools Percent of Low-Income Reports,” Retrieved from 2018–2019 Public Schools Percent Low Income, 1819 LIP by LEA, Lancaster SD Percentage of Low Income Families. Accessed on July 7, 2020.
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more