The 30 Most Dangerous Cities in America—2017 | SafeWise

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The 30 Most Dangerous Cities in America—2017

Despite rhetoric that US cities have grown more dangerous, the crime rate has actually fallen in recent years according to the FBI. Property and violent crime have decreased steadily since 1991, when the national crime rate reached its peak at 5,856 crimes per 100,000 people.1 The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU reports the 2016 crime rate will be around 2,857 crimes per 100,000 people, nearly half the rate it was two decades ago.

While American cities are safer overall, 2016’s preliminary numbers indicate this was the first year in the last fifteen that saw an increase in crime. This was largely due to a spike in murder rates, primarily in three major cities: Boston, Chicago, and Washington, DC.2 The FBI estimates that violent crime increased 3.9% nationally from 2014 to 2015, but property crime fell 2.6% during the same time period.3

As you might expect, property crime is much more prevalent than violent crime in the United States. The FBI reports that in 2015, there were 3.73 violent crimes per 1,000 people versus 24.87 property crimes per 1,000 people.4 Although there are some fluctuations, rates for both property and violent crime are higher in the southern and western regions of the United States while the North, specifically New England, enjoys lower-than-average crime rates.

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The 30 Most Dangerous Cities in America:

1. Emeryville, CALIFORNIA 

Previous Rank: 3

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 13.25
Property Crimes per 1,000: 172.92

2. Tukwila, WASHINGTON 

Previous Rank: 1

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 7.51
Property Crimes per 1,000: 165.84

3. Myrtle Beach, SOUTH CAROLINA 

Previous Rank: 2

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 15.75
Property Crimes per 1,000: 143.86

4. Lumberton, NORTH CAROLINA

Previous Rank: 4

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 16.65
Property Crimes per 1,000: 139.38

5. Branson, MISSOURI 

Previous Rank: 10

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 7.12
Property Crimes per 1,000: 132.76

6. College Park, GEORGIA 

Previous Rank: 5

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 25.90
Property Crimes per 1,000: 110.16

7. Bastrop, LOUISIANA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 12.25
Property Crimes per 1,000: 113.99

8. Chamblee, GEORGIA 

Previous Rank: 51

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 13.90
Property Crimes per 1,000: 110.14

9. Florida City, FLORIDA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 31.56
Property Crimes per 1,000: 91.81

10. Bellmead, TEXAS 

Previous Rank: 6

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 10.15
Property Crimes per 1,000: 110.55

11. East Point, GEORGIA 

Previous Rank: 9

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 11.34
Property Crimes per 1,000: 106.30

12. Humble, TEXAS 

Previous Rank: 11

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 9.53
Property Crimes per 1,000: 107.54

13. Bessemer, ALABAMA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 17.71
Property Crimes per 1,000: 98.44

14. Hammond, LOUISIANA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 10.17
Property Crimes per 1,000: 101.57

15. Monroe, LOUISIANA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 26.01
Property Crimes per 1,000: 83.80

16. Miami Beach, FLORIDA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 10.77
Property Crimes per 1,000: 97.17

17. Gallup, NEW MEXICO 

Previous Rank: 7

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 15.56
Property Crimes per 1,000: 91.46

18. Alexandria, LOUISIANA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 20.45
Property Crimes per 1,000: 83.76

19. Commerce, CALIFORNIA 

Previous Rank: 47

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 7.08
Property Crimes per 1,000: 94.92

20. Salt Lake City, UTAH 

Previous Rank: 19

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 8.55
Property Crimes per 1,000: 93.31

21. Anniston, ALABAMA 

Previous Rank: 15

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 27.21
Property Crimes per 1,000: 73.75

22. Panama City Beach, FLORIDA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 10.69
Property Crimes per 1,000: 87.78

23. North Myrtle Beach, SOUTH CAROLINA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 6.12
Property Crimes per 1,000: 90.35

24. Cocoa, FLORIDA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 19.10
Property Crimes per 1,000: 76.58

25. Beckley, WEST VIRGINIA 

Previous Rank: 42

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 13.65
Property Crimes per 1,000: 80.94

26. Dyersburg, TENNESSEE

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 15.09
Property Crimes per 1,000: 77.60

27. Gonzales, LOUISIANA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 4.89
Property Crimes per 1,000: 87.73

28. Bemidji, MINNESOTA 

Previous Rank: 34

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 3.92
Property Crimes per 1,000: 88.06

29. Lake City, FLORIDA

Previous Rank: Not Ranked

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 16.34
Property Crimes per 1,000: 75.28

30. Springfield, MISSOURI 

Previous Rank: 25

Violent Crimes per 1,000: 13.56
Property Crimes per 1,000: 77.95

Our Methodology

Here at SafeWise, we take our job to keep you informed about the safety of your home and community seriously. We’ve used publicly available data to identify some of the most dangerous cities in America, rating communities based on an aggregate of both violent and property crime per capita as reported to the FBI. We’ve also eliminated all cities with fewer than 10,000 residents as of 2015 and any communities that did not officially report crime data.

Most Improved Cities

While some cities rose or fell compared to our rankings from last year, a few improved crime rates so drastically that they are no longer in the top thirty most dangerous cities. The following communities were on last year’s list but have rolled out initiatives and focused on crime prevention measures that appear to have been effective. Hopefully, these cities can serve as models for other communities struggling to keep residents safe.

Kennett, Missouri

Kennett, otherwise known as Sheryl Crow’s hometown, was without a police chief for a bit but now has new leadership that is focused on making community and Neighborhood Watch efforts part of the solution.5 In this case, more communication with the community ensures a safer city.

Union City, Georgia

This Georgia city has gotten serious about safety, applying for numerous grants to beef up its police force and supply officers with body cameras. Union City also has a crime reduction program that includes a Citizen Police Academy, security seminars, and support for Neighborhood Watch programs.6

Anderson, South Carolina

Anderson has turned things around with an initiative called run by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department. 7 The website provides online safety resources for communities and allows police to share more information with residents and issue important alerts. The program also encourages citizens to report problems online and become part of the solution to keeping Anderson safe.

Share the list to start discussing how to be part of the solution in your community.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What about DC and New York? Why don’t I see big cities on this list?

The data is adjusted to consider per capita rates, so even though more crimes occur in large cities, they present less risk of becoming a victim of property or violent crime when the rate is adjusted for population.

Why are property and violent crimes weighted equally in the ratings?

There is a certain amount of overlap between property and violent crime, with some crimes qualifying as both. Because this list is not about which cities are most violent, but which ones are most dangerous, we chose to include both types of crime rather than judge which crimes implied more risk.

I’ve never felt unsafe in my city! Why is it on this list?

As we mentioned before, our rankings of the most dangerous cities in America are based on both violent and property crime per capita. For the most part, the chances of you being the victim of a crime are not high in most communities, even the ones on this list.

Why isn’t Detroit, Michigan, on the list?

While some cities may have a reputation for violent crime, like New Orleans or Detroit, the reality is that you are statistically less likely to experience a crime in major metro areas because the population is larger.

What can communities do to get off the dangerous cities list?

As we mentioned previously, some of the cities that have moved off last year’s list started crime prevention programs that involve more communication and cooperation with the public. Sharing responsibility for keeping the community safe by involving citizens is always a good place to begin.

The Good News: Read our report on the 100 Safest Cities in America.

1. Brennan Center for Justice, “Crime Trends 1990–2016
2. Brennan Center for Justice, “Crime in 2016: Updated Analysis”
3. FBI: UCR, “FBI Releases 2015 Crime Statistics
4. FBI: UCR, “FBI Releases 2015 Crime Statistics
5. City of Kennett, Missouri, “The Kennett Police Department
6. City of Union City Georgia, “Crime Reduction Program
7. SafeTown, “Anderson County Unified Emergency Communications Center

Kaz Weida

Find out more about Kaz, here.

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