The Best of Cities, the Worst of Cities

If the subject is the "good life," Americans like to brag about the neighborhood they live in.

If the subject is the “good life,” Americans like to brag about the neighborhood they live in. It has the best scenery or the best schools or the best job opportunities. However, if the good life is your goal, perhaps one statistic outweighs all the others: the crime rate.

Crime rates for all 50 states are determined each year by dividing the reported crimes in the state by the state population and multiplying that figure by 100,000. For instance, by dividing year’s reported crimes in the state by the state population, the result can sow the number of robberies for that year for a 100,000 general population.

Crime rates are determined and reported yearly for all 50 states. The main sources for obtaining crime data are the statistics reported to the FBI and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS). Each year the U.S. Census Bureau collects the survey crime data for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The information comes from a sample of more than 130,000 households and more than 220,000 people. It reports on types and times of various crimes such as rape and assault, household theft and larceny crimes. Household members 12 years or older are interviewed. These households may be interviewed every six months for a certain period.

Based on FBI reports, the number of violent crimes in the United States has fallen in recent years. The figures that count violent crimes cannot be totally accurate due to the fact that many crimes against both people and property are often not reported to police or investigated. In fact, about 50% of violent crimes and about 40% of property crimes are not reported. Even so, the decline in violence over the last 25 years is staggering, although that decline is lagging in urban areas.

The most dangerous city according to these metrics is Detroit – followed by St. Louis, Memphis, Baltimore, and Chicago. Stockton and Oakland rank numbers 9 and 10, respectively. Determining the safer cities is harder. The crime rate in the state of Connecticut is lower than the national average by over 24% for violent crimes, and by just over 4% for property crimes. Provo, Utah frequently appears in lists of safest cities, with a whopping 131 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Which is not very different from saying there are 131 violent crimes total. With unique demographics and a small population, it’s not likely that a downtown coastal area will be able to replicate these small crime rates by copying these policing policies, for example.

For those of us trying to raise kids and give them an education, there are many factors to consider when choosing where to live. Violent crime certainly ranks high in that list. Many of us feel trapped in the neighborhood we grew up in, but violence is the one thing that can prompt even the most stubborn of us to consider uprooting.

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