Special Report

Cities Where Crime Is Plummeting

7. Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -40.8%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 467.9
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 277.2
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 5.0

Economic prosperity often helps lower crime rates. A typical household In the Hinesville metro area, however, earned $40,559 in 2013, one of the lowest median household incomes compared to other U.S. metro areas. Also, more than one in five area residents lived in poverty in 2013, among the higher poverty rates nationwide. Yet, Hinesville had a violent crime rate of 277.2 per 100,000 people in 2013, down nearly 41% from 2009 and one of the lower rates in the country. This was a drastic change compared to 2009, when the violent crime rate of 467.9 incidents per 100,000 people was among the higher rates. In addition, property crimes fell by nearly 29% over that period, also one of the largest such decreases in the nation.

6. Ames, IA
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -41.6%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 260.9
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 152.3
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 0.0

Like several other cities with falling violent crime rates, Ames residents were well-educated and benefited from a strong job market. More than 95% of adults had at least a high school diploma in 2013, and 48.2% had at least a bachelor’s degree, both among the highest rates nationwide. Also, just 3.5% of the area’s workforce was unemployed that year, less than half the national rate of 7.4%. Residents were also relatively safe, with a violent crime rate of 152.3 per 100,000 people, down nearly 42% from 2009.While this one of the lower violent crime rates among large U.S. cities, the incidence of rape was more than twice the national rate in 2013, at 52.2 per 100,000 residents.

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5. Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, SC
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -41.7%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 616.3
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 359.4
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 51.0

The reported violent crime rate in the Charleston metro area fell by 41.7% between 2009 and 2013, from 616.3 per 100,000 residents to 359.4 per 100,000 residents. The area’s falling violent crime rate was largely driven by lower robbery and aggravated assault rates — among the most commonly committed crimes — which fell 55.7% and 39.4%, respectively. Reasons for the sharp decline in crime may be due in part to a falling unemployment rate. Between 2009 and 2013, the unemployment rate fell from 9.5% to 6.3%, even as the labor force grew by 5.5%, indicating that the area’s economy has made a strong recovery from the recession. However, violence is still a substantial problem in the Charleston metro area. At 7.2 murders per 100,000 residents, the area had one of the highest murder rates in the country in 2013.

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