Special Report

Cities Where Crime Is Plummeting

Ocean City, New Jersey
Source: Thinkstock

15. Ocean City, NJ
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: -27.3%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 316.6 per 100,000
> 2015 violent crime rate: 230.2 per 100,000
> Murders in 2015: 1

Ocean City, New Jersey has become a considerably safer city in the last half decade. Since 2011, the metro area’s violent crime rate has dropped by 27.3%, the 15th largest such decline of all major metro areas. The city’s annual violent crime rate of 230 incidents for every 100,000 residents is well below the national rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

As its violent crime rate fell, so too did Ocean City’s incidence of property crimes, such as burglary and theft. Throughout the metro area, 4,656 property crimes were reported for every 100,000 residents in 2011, a higher rate than in all but half a dozen other U.S. metro areas. Over the last five year’s the area’s property crime rate fell by 27.9% to 3,338 property crimes per 100,000 people.

Cheyenne Wyoming Capital City Downtown Capitol Building Legislature
Source: Thinkstock

14. Cheyenne, WY
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: -27.4%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 244.4 per 100,000
> 2015 violent crime rate: 177.4 per 100,000
> Murders in 2015: 7

Five years ago, 244 violent crimes were reported per 100,000 people in Cheyenne, Wyoming, far less than the national violent crime rate of 387 incidents per 100,000 people at the time. Since then, the U.S. violent crime rate has dropped by 3.9%, while Cheyenne’s violent crime rate dipped by 27.4%, one of the largest drops of any U.S. metro area.

In every city across the country, homicide contributes very little to the overall violent crime rate, which also includes, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. Though Cheyenne’s overall violent crime rate is low, the metro area’s murder rate of 7.2 per 100,000 residents is surprisingly high — higher than in all but a few dozen other U.S. metros.

Hanover, Pennsylvania
Source: Thinkstock

13. York-Hanover, PA
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: -28.3%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 303.4 per 100,000
> 2015 violent crime rate: 217.5 per 100,000
> Murders in 2015: 19

Few U.S. metro areas have reported as steep a drop in violent crime rate as York-Hanover, Pennsylvania. There area’s crime rate fell from 303 per 100,000 residents in 2011 to 218 per 100,000 residents in 2015, a 28.3% drop. Over the same time period, the property crime rate also fell by 22.3% in the York-Hanover metro area.

Though there is not likely a single cause for the metro area’s crime reduction, improving economic conditions certainly did not hurt. The metro area’s annual unemployment rate fell from 7.5% in 2011 to 4.6% in 2015.

Evening shots of Benton Franklin intercounty bridge lit up over the Columbia River in Kennewick, Washington.
Source: Thinkstock

12. Kennewick-Richland, WA
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: -28.5%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 254.9 per 100,000
> 2015 violent crime rate: 182.3 per 100,000
> Murders in 2015: 8

Many of U.S. metro areas with rapidly declining violent crime rates were relatively dangerous five years ago. Kennewick-Richland, Washington, on the other hand, was not. There were only 255 violent crimes for every 100,000 area residents in 2011, well below the national violent crime 387 incidents per 100,000 people the same year. Since then, the nation’s violent crime rate has declined by 3.9%, while Kennewick crime rate has plummeted by 28.5%.

Recent studies suggest that widespread violent crime can be a major drag on local economies. Kennewick-Richland’s improving crime rate may foreshadow coming economic improvements. Since 2011, the metro area’s unemployment rate has fallen from 8.5% to 6.7%, an impressive drop but a jobless rate that is still far above the national rate. Perhaps further improvements are on the way.

Las Cruces, New Mexico
Source: Thinkstock

11. Las Cruces, NM
> 5-yr. violent crime rate change: -28.9%
> 2011 violent crime rate: 367.7 per 100,000
> 2015 violent crime rate: 261.3 per 100,000
> Murders in 2015: 6

Las Cruces was once among the top 100 most violent metropolitan areas, but today it is relatively safe. The metro area’s violent crime rate fell from 368 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2011 to 261 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2015. The 28.9% drop in crime was one of the most substantial of any city.

The presence of crime often increases in tandem with poverty and unemployment, but Las Cruces bucks the trend. Despite the substantial drop in crime, the metropolitan area had the smallest improvement in unemployment of any city nationwide. While the national unemployment rate fell from 8.9% to 5.3% in the last five years, the Las Cruces annual unemployment rate inched lower from 7.5% to 7.4%, and remains one of the highest of any metro area.

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