The Most Dangerous Cities in America

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10. Stockton, Calif.
> Violent crimes per 1,000: 14.1
> Population: 295,136
> 2011 murders: 58
> Median income: $45,606
> Unemployment rate: 20.2%

In 2010, Stockton had an unemployment rate of 18.4%, among the worst in the nation for large cities. In 2011, the labor market worsened and unemployment rose to 20.2%, well more than double the national average of 8.9% and the highest of any of the cities on this list. Violent crime rates also have worsened, increasing from 13.8 crimes per 1,000 people in 2010. Though Stockton has long had high crime rates, the 58 murders recorded in Stockton last year were an all-time record for the city. This month, to curb the increasing crime rates in the city, police decided to prioritize violent crime and to no longer respond to property crimes in the city unless certain criminal conditions were met.

9. Baltimore, Md.
> Violent crimes per 1,000: 14.2
> Population: 626,848
> 2011 murders: 196
> Median income: $38,346
> Unemployment rate: 10.5%

Baltimore managed to decrease its violent crime rate slightly from 14.6 per 1,000 in 2010 to 14.2 last year. This coincides with a 12% decrease in murders. However, Baltimore still has the sixth-highest homicide rate of any U.S. city with a population above 100,000. Baltimore’s murder rate has been dropping steadily, but with 341 forcible rape cases in 2011 and the 11th-highest aggravated assault rate in the country, many residents are victims. In 2010, Baltimore made plans to layoff 193 police due to budget cuts.

8. Atlanta, Ga.
> Violent crimes per 1,000: 14.3
> Population: 425,533
> 2011 murders: 88
> Median income: $41,631
> Unemployment rate:12.1%

Compared to most American cities, Atlanta has extremely high incidences of both violent and property crimes. The city’s 8.27 aggravated assaults per 1,000 people is one of the 10 highest rates among the country’s largest cities, as is the city’s 70.84 property crimes per 1,000 people. Atlanta also has one of the nation’s highest rates of motor vehicle theft, with a total of 5,371 incidents in the city last year. Vehicle theft likely will remain an issue throughout 2012 as well; in March almost 100 individuals were arrested as part of a single auto theft operation.

7. Birmingham, Ala.
> Violent crimes per 1,000: 14.8
> Population: 213,258
> 2011 murders: 54
> Median income: $30,212
> Unemployment rate: 10.9%

New on the list this year is Birmingham, which ranks among the top five cities in the U.S. for forcible rape and property crime rates. The city also has among the highest rates of burglary and larceny-theft. Like many other high crime cities, Birmingham has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, at 25.1%. Despite the rampant crime, officials announced last year that they planned to lay off 148 employees of the sheriff’s department in an effort to reduce the budget by $12.3 million.

6. Little Rock, Ark.
> Violent crimes per 1,000: 14.9
> Population: 194,988
> 2011 murders: 37
> Median income: $44,415
> Unemployment rate: 7.2%

Though Little Rock’s 2011 violent crime rate is down from 2010, when there were 15.2 violent crimes for every 1,000 people, in many ways the city’s crime rate has not truly improved. Although in 2010 there were only 25 murders in the city, in 2011 there were 37. Additionally, incidents of forcible rape increased from 149 to 161, while the number of property crime incidents increased by 708, or almost 5%. According to the Little Rock Police Department’s COMPSTAT reports, the total number of violent, property and arson crimes has experienced a net increase since 2001, although with slight declines in more recent years.

Also Read: America’s most violent states