Special Report

The Most Dangerous City in Every State

36. Lawton, Oklahoma
> City violent crime rate: 744.2 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 422.0 per 100,000 (14th highest)
> City poverty rate: 14.1%
> City unemployment rate: 4.3%

Despite falling roughly 27% since 2009, the violent crime rate in the Lawton metro area is the highest in Oklahoma. There were 744 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Lawton residents in 2015, far higher than the statewide rate of 422 incidents per 100,000 people and the 15th highest of any city in the country. Among the 976 violent crimes reported that year, there were 10 homicides, 214 robberies, and 691 aggravated assaults.

Individuals without a college education are less likely to find a steady, high-paying job and are ultimately more likely to break the law. Fewer than one in five adults in Lawton have a bachelor’s degree, the smallest share of any metro area in Oklahoma monitored by the FBI.

Eugene, Oregon
Source: Thinkstock

37. Eugene, Oregon
> City violent crime rate: 329.7 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 259.8 per 100,000 (14th lowest)
> City poverty rate: 19.4%
> City unemployment rate: 4.0%

Oregon is a relatively safe state. While Eugene is the most dangerous of Oregon’s seven metro areas monitored by the FBI, it is safer than the country as a whole. There were 330 violent crimes in Eugene in 2015 per 100,000 people, slightly below the national violent crime rate of 373 per 100,000. Aggravated assault is the most common violent crime in Eugene, followed by robbery.

Crime can be more common in economically troubled areas, and in Eugene 19.4% of residents live in poverty, a larger share than the statewide poverty rate of 15.4%.

Source: Thinkstock

38. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pennsylvania
> City violent crime rate: 459.8 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 315.1 per 100,000 (22nd lowest)
> City poverty rate: 13.1%
> City unemployment rate: 4.5%

The fifth largest U.S. city, Philadelphia has a long history of organized crime, serial murder, and violence. The city accounts for 68% of all homicides in Pennsylvania, 81% of all robberies, and 66% of all aggravated assaults. In total, there were 460 violent crimes per 100,000 area residents in 2015, far more than the statewide rate of 315 incidents per 100,000 people.

Neighborhoods such as Kensington and Fairhill in the northeastern part of the city known as the Badlands have become major hotbeds for Philadelphia crime in recent decades. The neighborhoods are notorious for widespread drug trafficking, prostitution, light police presence, and a string of murders in 2011 committed by a serial killer referred to as the Kensington Strangler. Between 2014 and 2015, there were more than 30 homicides within roughly a half-mile radius of one Fairhill street corner.

Source: Thinkstock

39. Providence-Warwick, Rhode Island
> City violent crime rate: 333.7 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 242.5 per 100,000 (11th lowest)
> City poverty rate: 13.4%
> City unemployment rate: 4.3%

As the only metro area in Rhode Island, Providence is the most dangerous by default. Still, with 334 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, the metro is more dangerous than the state as a whole. With the exception of those in Massachusetts, it is also the most dangerous metro area in New England of those monitored by the FBI.

Last year, the city began expanding training scenarios for its now 30-member Special Response Unit. Historically, the SRU has been used in high intensity standoffs, including hostage situations and drug raids. Lately, the team’s training scenarios have been modified to prepare for the possibility of a mass shooting.

Columbia, South Carolina
Source: Thinkstock

40. Columbia, South Carolina
> City violent crime rate: 650.6 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 504.5 per 100,000 (7th highest)
> City poverty rate: 15.1%
> City unemployment rate: 4.1%

Columbia is the most dangerous metro area in a relatively dangerous state. Driven primarily by aggravated assaults, Columbia’s violent crime rate of 651 incidents per 100,000 residents is higher than any of the five other metro areas in the state and well above the nationwide violent crime rate of 373 per 100,000. While other metro areas in the state have higher murder rates, homicide is still a major problem in Columbia. Of the 56 murders in the metro area in 2015, at least one victim was an on-duty police officer.

The same year, the Columbia Police Department implemented a strategy known as Ceasefire Columbia to reduce gun violence. The program’s long-term efficacy remains to be seen.