Special Report

America's 25 Murder Capitals

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15. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
> Murder rate: 23.5 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 141
> Violent crime rate: 1533.0 per 100,000
> Population: 600,193

While the homicide rate nationwide increased 8% over the past year, there was a slight 3% decline in the number of murders reported per capita in Milwaukee. There were 23 murders reported per 100,000 residents in Milwaukee in 2016, a decrease from the 24 murders that were reported in the city per 100,000 residents in 2015. As a result, Wisconsin’s homicide rate fell from ninth highest in the country to 15th highest.

Despite the improvement, Milwaukee remains one of the most dangerous places in the country. Overall there were 1,533 violent crimes — which also includes rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — per 100,000 residents in 2016, nearly four times the national rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 residents and the eighth most of any city.

Source: Thinkstock

14. Dayton, Ohio
> Murder rate: 25.7 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 36
> Violent crime rate: 999.6 per 100,000
> Population: 140,260

There were 36 murders in Dayton in 2016, the second most of any city in Ohio when adjusted for population and 10 more murders than were reported in the city the year prior — pushing Dayton’s homicide rate from 19th highest in the country to 14th. There were also 133 rapes, 496 robberies, and 737 aggravated assaults. In total there were just about 1,000 violent crimes per 100,000 Dayton residents in 2016, close to three times the national rate of 386 violent crimes per 100,00 Americans.

Crime is frequently a symptom of poverty, and the poorest parts of the country often have the most criminal activity. In Dayton, some 19.7% of households earn less than $10,000 a year, and 35.5% of residents live in poverty, the sixth and fourth largest shares of any U.S. city.

Source: Thinkstock

13. Kansas City, Missouri
> Murder rate: 27.0 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 129
> Violent crime rate: 1,654.6 per 100,000
> Population: 478,364

There were 129 homicides reported in Kansas City in 2016, 20 more than in the year prior. Adjusted for population, the incidence of homicide rose 17% from 23 murders per 100,000 residents in 2015 to 27 murders per 100,000 in 2016 — more than twice the 8% increase nationwide. There was also an 11% increase in the number of rapes and robberies, and a 21% increase in aggravated assaults over the same period. In total, there were 1,655 violent crimes in Kansas City per 100,000 residents last year, a considerable increase from the 2015 rate of 1,417 incidents per 100,000 residents and the sixth most of any U.S. city.

Kansas City is one of 12 cities slated to receive aid from the U.S. Justice Department in combating the upward trend in violent crime. According to the June 2017 announcement introducing the program, the partnership will focus on fighting gun crime, drug trafficking, and gang violence.

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12. Chicago, Illinois
> Murder rate: 28.1 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 765
> Violent crime rate: 1,105.5 per 100,000
> Population: 2,725,153

No city contributed more to the increase in the national homicide rate last year than Chicago. There were 287 more murders in Chicago in 2016 than there were in 2015, a 60% increase. In total, the city’s homicide rate of 29 murders per 100,000 residents last year was nearly six times the national rate of 5 homicides per 100,000 Americans.

Chicago’s spiraling crime rate has prompted analysis from sociologists and other experts, yet there is little consensus as to what is causing the spike in violence. One factor contributing to the high homicide rate in Chicago is gun violence. While the homicide rate in Chicago when guns are not involved is roughly similar to the rate in similar cities like New York, the city’s firearm-related homicide rate is one of the highest in the country. Chicago currently has more lenient firearm sentencing laws than New York. Illegal gun possession carries a one-year minimum sentence in Chicago, compared to 3.5 years in New York.

Source: Thinkstock

11. San Bernardino, California
> Murder rate: 28.5 per 100,000
> No. of murders: 62
> Violent crime rate: 1,324.4 per 100,000
> Population: 217,303

San Bernardino was one of many large cities that contributed the most to the increase in the U.S. murder rate over the past year. There were 62 homicides reported in San Bernardino in 2016, a 41% increase from the 44 murders reported the year before — which included the December 2, 2015 mass shooting that claimed 14 lives and seriously injured 22 others.

The surge in homicide in San Bernardino last year is the largest percentage increase in murder in the area since 2012, when the city was forced to declare bankruptcy and cut funding for municipal services such as parks, libraries, and police. The San Bernardino Police Department has yet to rebuild its force. Today, there are 99 sworn officers per 100,000 San Bernardino residents, a considerably decline from the 171 officers per 100,000 the city had in 2008.

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