16. Wichita, Kansas
> City violent crime rate: 673.2 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 389.9 per 100,000 (19th highest)
> City poverty rate: 14.1%
> City unemployment rate: 4.2%
The largest metropolitan area in Kansas, Wichita is also the most dangerous city in the state. While the suburbs of Wichita are relatively safe, crime is far more common in the city’s downtown neighborhoods. There were 673 violent crimes per 100,000 Wichita residents in 2015, far more than the statewide crime rate of 390 incidents per 100,000 people. Among the many violent crimes reported were 30 murders, 763 robberies, and more than 3,000 aggravated assaults.
While the risk of violence often rises with poverty, Wichita is not the poorest metro area in Kansas. Some 14.1% of Wichita residents live in poverty, higher than the statewide 13.0% poverty rate yet lower than, for example, the 20.8% poverty rate in Manhattan, Kansas. Violence also can be more common in areas with higher unemployment, and Wichita’s 4.2% unemployment rate is the highest in the state.
17. Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky
> City violent crime rate: 422.9 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 218.7 per 100,000 (7th lowest)
> City poverty rate: 13.4%
> City unemployment rate: 4.1%
The Louisville metro area has the highest violent crime rate of any of the five metro areas in the state tracked by the FBI. Of the 96 murders in the metro area, 84 were in the Louisville city proper, making 2015 the city’s deadliest year since at least 1980. In many U.S. cities, violent crime tends to be localized to certain parts of the city, and Louisville is no exception. About 75% of 2015 homicides in the city occurred in neighborhoods on the west side of Interstate 65.
City officials attribute the prevalence of violent crime to a number of causes, including drug addiction and the availability of illegal guns.
18. Monroe, Louisiana
> City violent crime rate: 1,160.0 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 539.7 per 100,000 (5th highest)
> City poverty rate: 23.9%
> City unemployment rate: 5.8%
Monroe is the most dangerous metro area in one of the most dangerous states in the country. Monroe’s violent crime rate of 1,160 incidents per 100,000 residents is more than double Louisiana’s violent crime rate, and higher than that of any other metro area nationwide.
In response to the high prevalence of violent crime, the city’s police department rolled out several crime prevention initiatives. In early 2015, the Monroe Police Department launched a mobile app that allows residents to ask questions, get disaster information, and provide feedback. The app’s most widely used function, however, is providing anonymous tips. In the summer months, the department rolled out its new street crime unit, tasked with building community relations and addressing crime hot spots. Officers on the force also received a 10% raise.
19. Lewiston-Auburn, Maine
> City violent crime rate: 138.0 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 130.1 per 100,000 (2nd lowest)
> City poverty rate: 15.4%
> City unemployment rate: 2.6%
Maine is one of the least dangerous states in the country, and even Lewiston, the most dangerous metro area in the state, has a low violent crime rate. There were 138 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents of the Lewiston-Auburn metro area in 2015. While Lewiston has the highest violent crime rate in the state, the metro area is far less dangerous than America as a whole. There were 373 violent crimes per 100,000 Americans nationwide in 2015, well more than double the violent crime rate in Lewiston.
One notable change to the Lewiston metro area’s demographic has been the influx of Somali refugees over the past few years. While some area residents have claimed the wave of immigration has increased crime in the area, the metro area’s crime rate has actually been on the decline in the past few years. Lewiston’s violent crime rate is currently the lowest it has been since 2006.
20. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Maryland
> City violent crime rate: 624.7 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 457.2 per 100,000 (12th highest)
> City poverty rate: 10.6%
> City unemployment rate: 4.5%
Over half of all 2015 murders in Maryland occurred in the Baltimore metro area. Baltimore, the most dangerous metro area in the state, had 367 homicides in 2015, the seventh most of all U.S. metro areas and more than many other cities more than double its size.
Many attribute the record number of homicides in Baltimore in 2015 to unrest fueled by the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. Other theories point to an increase in drug-related violence, triggered by the looting of pharmacies during the April 2015 riots. While homicide spiked in Baltimore, robbery and aggravated assault were the primary drivers of the metro area’s highest in the state violent crime rate.