Special Report

Cities Where Crime Is Plummeting

10. Pittsfield, MA
5-year decrease in violent crime rate:
Violent crime per 100,000 (2010): 453.7
Violent crime per 100,000 (2014): 307.2
Total murders (2014): 0

Pittsfield, Massachusetts, located in the western part of the state, had one of the most dramatic decreases in violent crime over the past five years. In 2010, 453.7 murder and nonnegligent manslaughters, rapes, aggravated assaults, and robberies took place in the metro area per 100,000 residents. That year, the national violent crime rate was of 404.5 per 100,000 people. By 2014, the rate dropped to 307.2 incidents per 100,000 people, well below the national rate of 365.5 incidents per 100,000 people. The biggest contributor to the decline was the number of aggravated assaults, which fell from 493 cases 2010 to 286 in 2014. A significant decline in crime can often be at least partially explained by an area’s relatively healthy job market, but that does not appear to be the case in Pittsfield. While the metropolitan area’s unemployment rate has declined, Pittsfield’s unemployment rate of 8.9% was below the U.S. rate of 9.6% in 2010 and above the U.S. rate of 6.2% in 2014.

9. Roanoke, VA
5-year decrease in violent crime rate:
Violent crime per 100,000 (2010): 302.9
Violent crime per 100,000 (2014): 202.7
Total murders (2014): 7

Roanoke’s violent crime rate fell by roughly one-third over the past five years. While its violent crime rate was already relatively low in 2010, it became truly one of the safest metropolitan areas as of 2014, with just 202.7 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents that year. This was roughly 55% of the national rate. During that time, the number of murders fell. Many of the cities with the biggest declines in crime have consistently been prosperous over the last half decade. In Roanoke, the labor force increased by roughly 2,300, while the unemployment rate fell from 7.6% to 5.2%, both well below the national figures of 9.6% and 6.2%.

8. Cumberland, MD-WV
5-year decrease in violent crime rate:
Violent crime per 100,000 (2010): 392.4
Violent crime per 100,000 (2014): 258.9
Total murders (2014): 3

The Cumberland metropolitan region’s violent crime rate was relatively similar to the national figure in 2010. By 2014, the rate fell to just 258.9 incidents per 100,000 residents, lower than the national rate of 365.5 incidents per 100,000 people. The incidence of every major type of violent crime — murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — fell, with the last of these declining from 301 reported incidents in 2010 to just 203 in 2014. As was the case in many cities with falling violent crime rates, the incidence of property crime also went down in Cumberland. There were 3,084 reported property crimes in the area in 2010 and only 2,818 in 2014. Crime rate declines tend to occur in areas with meaningful improvements in economic conditions, but Cumberland’s job market has actually recovered at a slower rate than the country as a whole. While unemployment on a national level fell from 9.6% in 2010 to 6.2% in 2014, Cumberland’s declined from 9.3% to 7.3%.

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