15. Memphis, Tennessee
> Murder rate: 20.5 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 135
> Violent crime rate: 1,740.1 per 100,000
> Population: 657,936
Last year, 135 people were murdered in Memphis, Tennessee. The total incidence of homicide in the city reflects a 3.6% improvement from the previous year but a 15.4% increase since 2011.
According to an official from the Memphis Police Department, arguments are the primary motive for homicide in the city, followed by robbery. Robberies tend to be more common in economically disadvantaged areas, and more than one in four Memphis residents live below the poverty line. The city’s robbery rate was the ninth highest in the country last year.
14. West Palm Beach, Florida
> Murder rate: 21.0 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 22
> Violent crime rate: 880.7 per 100,000
> Population: 104,919
Murder in West Palm Beach has climbed considerably in recent years. There were 22 homicides in the city in 2015, a 46.7% increase from the previous year and a 57.1% jump from half a decade ago.
Police blame the recent surge in violence on “cliques,” which are similar to gangs, only less organized and without a clear hierarchy. While the motives behind many killings in the city remain unclear, they are likely the result of personal disputes. In response to the escalating violence, police have quadrupled patrol hours in certain parts of the city.
13. Cincinnati, Ohio
> Murder rate: 22.1 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 66
> Violent crime rate: 925.0 per 100,000
> Population: 298,478
Most of the 66 homicides in Cincinnati last year involved guns. As the number of murders in the city are up 8.2% from five years ago and up 10.0% from 2014, Cincinnati’s murder rate ranks among the worst in the country. Concurrently, the number of non-fatal shooting victims is up 31.2% from 2014.
In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Mayor John Cranley announced that reducing the number of shootings in the city is the top priority of his administration. In September 2015, the steadily increasing violence led to a sea change in the city’s police department’s leadership. With a newly appointed police chief, the mayor’s office hopes to make progress through improved relations between police and the community.
12. Kansas City, Missouri
> Murder rate: 23.0 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 109
> Violent crime rate: 1,417.3 per 100,000
> Population: 473,373
Larger than its neighboring city of the same name across the Kansas state line, Kansas City, Missouri also has a higher annual murder rate. With 109 murders in the city in 2015, the murder rate of 23 incidents for every 100,000 residents was higher than in all but 11 other American cities.
According to the Kansas City Police Department, 35 killings from last year remain unsolved.
11. Washington, District of Columbia
> Murder rate: 24.1 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 162
> Violent crime rate: 1,202.6 per 100,000
> Population: 672,228
Washington D.C.’s murder rate is on the rise. The 162 murders in the city last year represented a 50.0% increase from 2011 and a 54.3% spike from 2014. Of the all the murders that took place in the District of Columbia last year, only 29 have been solved.
In an interview with the Washington Times, the city’s assistant police chief explained that a greater number of shell casings are being discovered at crime scenes. More shell casings suggest shooters are using modified weapons and extended magazines, which increase the likelihood of a fatality.