Special Report

Cities Where Crime Is Plummeting

4. Lexington-Fayette, KY
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -41.7%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 440.3
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 256.7
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 24.0

Unlike other regions with falling crime rates, property crimes in the Lexington metro area increased by nearly 10% between 2009 and 2013. By contrast, the property crime rate fell by 10.1% across the nation over that period. Larceny was especially common in 2013, with 2,735 personal thefts reported per 100,000 area residents, one of the highest rates. However, Lexington’s violent crime rate has fallen dramatically from 440.3 incidents per 100,000 people in 2009, which was far higher than the national rate at that time, to 256.7 per 100,000 people in 2013, one of the lower rates.

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3. Manhattan, KS
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -44.2%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 346.3
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 193.3
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 6.0

Nearly 96% of Manhattan area residents had a high school diploma in 2013, the highest rate in the country. Such a high educational attainment rate was due to Manhattan being home to Kansas State University. The university and the area’s local school district together accounted for more than a third of total employment in the Manhattan metro area in 2013, more than any other employer. The stability from these large public employers may have helped keep the unemployment rate below 5.5% between 2009 and 2013. In 2012, the Manhattan area police department started a new Laser Point program to target traditionally crime-ridden neighborhoods. The program is largely credited for part of the 44.2% decline in Manhattan’s violent crime rate.

2. Idaho Falls, ID
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -46.1%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 294.3
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 158.5
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 3.0

As in many other U.S. metropolitan areas, the Idaho Falls police department has recently formed partnerships with crime mapping and communication groups intended to reduce crime. Access to local crime statistics and mapping tools such as these may account in part for the dramatic drop in violent crime in the Idaho Falls metro area. There were nearly 300 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people in 2009. By 2013, that rate had fallen by more than 46% to 158.5 per 100,000 people, one of the lower rates nationwide. Idaho Falls residents also had the benefit of a strong job market. In 2013, 5.3% of the area workforce was unemployed versus the national rate of 7.4%. The relative availability of jobs may also have helped lower the area’s poverty rate, which was 11.2% in 2013, one of the lower rates reviewed and considerably lower than the national rate of 15.8%.

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1. Dubuque, IA
> 5-year change in violent crime rate: -58.7%
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2009): 387.2
> Violent crime per 100,000 (2013): 159.8
> Murders per 100,000 (2013): 0.0

No metropolitan area reviewed had a greater drop in violent crime than Dubuque, Iowa. Less than 160 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 residents in 2013, down nearly 60% from 2009 when more than 387 crimes were reported per 100,000 people. Like only a handful of U.S. metropolitan areas, there were zero murders in Dubuque in 2013. Other crimes were similarly infrequent. Dubuque had an aggravated assault rate of just 104 per 100,000 people, for example, less than half the national rate of 229 per 100,000 Americans in 2013. The job market was also exceptionally strong that year, with an unemployment rate of just 4.5%. By contrast, 7.4% of the nation’s workforce was unemployed.

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