Special Report

The Most Dangerous City in Every State

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

46. Danville, Virginia
> City violent crime rate: 804 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 218 per 100,000 (4th lowest)
> City poverty rate: 22.5%
> City unemployment rate: 6.0%

Virginia is one of the least violent states in the country. The state’s violent crime rate for 2016 was 218 incidents per 100,000 people, the fourth lowest rate among all U.S. states. While murder typically represents only a small fraction of the total violent crime count, the conditions that drive up violent crime in any given locale do not tend to differ meaningfully from one type of crime to the next. Danville had 16 reported homicides in 2016, and when the city’s population size is factored in, this city had the 14th highest murder rate among more than 2,000 cities considered.

Source: Scott Hingst / Wikimedia Commons

47. Tacoma, Washington
> City violent crime rate: 953 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 302 per 100,000 (19th lowest)
> City poverty rate: 17.9%
> City unemployment rate: 5.7%

Tacoma is Washington’s most dangerous city, with a violent crime rate of 953 incidents per 100,000 residents. While this is a relatively high rate — the 96th worst in the country — the city’s incidence of property crime stands out even more. Tacoma had 13,749 reported property crimes in 2016, including 2,619 motor vehicle thefts. When the figure is adjusted for Tacoma’s population size, the city had the 11th highest motor vehicle theft rate of any city.

Source: Thinkstock

48. Charleston, West Virginia
> City violent crime rate: 1,552 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 358 per 100,000 (24th lowest)
> City poverty rate: 20.0%
> City unemployment rate: 4.9%

Although West Virginia has several cities with very high crime rates, Charleston’s 2016 violent crime rate of 1,552 incidents per 100,000 people is the state’s worst in the state by a wide margin. Plus, Charleston is also challenged by high rates of nonviolent crime (similar to the levels of assaults, robbery, and murder). Indeed, the city had the country’s 15th highest property crime rate in 2016.

Source: Aneese / iStock

49. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
> City violent crime rate: 1,533 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 306 per 100,000 (20th lowest)
> City poverty rate: 28.4%
> City unemployment rate: 4.6%

Of the 41 Wisconsin cities with crime data available for 2016, only four had violent crime rates exceeding the nation’s average of 386 incidents per 100,000 residents. And one city, Milwaukee, had a violent crime rate that greatly surpassed that — amounting to 1,533 incidents per 100,000 residents. Milwaukee is not only the state’s most violent city; it is also the place where most of the state’s violence occurs. Of Wisconsin’s 229 reported homicides for 2016, 141 occurred in Milwaukee. And 9,201 of the state’s 17,679 reported violent crimes for that year happened in the city.

Source: Milonica / Wikimedia Commons

50. Rock Springs, Wyoming
> City violent crime rate: 327 per 100,000
> State violent crime rate: 244 per 100,000 (11th lowest)
> City poverty rate: 11.7%
> City unemployment rate: N/A

Violent crime is less common in Wyoming than it is in most U.S. states. This explains why in even Wyoming’s most unsafe city, Rock Springs, the violent crime rate is dramatically lower than the nation’s average. Rock Springs, which lies in southern Wyoming, about 45 miles from the Utah border, had for 2016 a violent crime rate of 327 reported incidents per 100,000 residents, sharply below the national average of 386 incidents per 100,000 individuals.

While Rock Springs’ overall violent crime rate is low, it compares very unfavorably with its city counterparts elsewhere in one regard — in the incidence of sexual assault. In 2016 Rock Springs’ rate of reported rapes reached 145 cases per 100,000 residents, the 20th highest rate of any city, and more than three and a half times higher than the national average.

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