Special Report

Cities Where Crime Is Plummeting

10. Racine, WI
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -38.3%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 294.6
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 181.8
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 2.0

The violent crime rate in the Racine metro area fell 38.3% between 2009 and 2013, the 10th largest decrease in the country. The area’s falling violent crime rate was largely driven by a lower aggravated assault rate, which decreased from 138.6 per 100,000 people in 2009 to 64.7 per 100,000 people in 2013. Aggravated assaults accounted for only 35.5% of all violent crimes in 2013, down from 47% in 2009. While an area’s violent crime rate may fall as local economies improve, this was not the case in Racine. The unemployment rate of 8.6% in 2013 was not only far worse than the national rate, but its improvement since 2009 was due almost entirely to a shrinking labor force. The labor force contracted by 2.2% over that period, more than the reduction in the area’s unemployment rate.

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9. Florence, SC
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -38.5%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 772.4
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 475.0
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 11.0

The Florence area has long been among the 10 worst metro areas for violent crime, likely perpetuated by gang violence. Between 2009 and 2013, however, the violent crime rate dropped by nearly 39% to 475 per 100,000 residents. The violent crime rate was still higher than the national rate of 367.9 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans, however. Many attribute falling crime rates to new police programs aimed at patrolling traditionally dangerous areas more heavily. As of 2013, the Florence metro area had a median household income of less than $40,000 and the poverty rate was nearly 23%. These were both far worse than the respective national figures of $52,250, and 15.8%.

8. Wausau, WI
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -40.5%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 156.7
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 93.3
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 2.0

The violent crime rate in the Wausau metro area fell by more than 40% between 2009 and 2013, the eighth largest decrease nationwide. Cities with falling crime rates were not necessarily safer compared to other metro areas. In Wausau, however, less than 95 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 residents in 2013, one of the lowest rate in the country. By contrast, there were 368 violent crimes per 100,000 people nationwide in 2013. Some violent crimes were especially scarce. There were less than 13 reports of rape in Wausau per 100,000 residents, for example, roughly half the national rate. While violent crime has fallen substantially, prostitution has been cited as a major issue for the area in recent years. Wausau recently proposed an ordinance requiring licenses for escort services, regulations already in place in nearby Weston and Schofield. The new law would allow law enforcement to crackdown on prostitution in the city.