Special Report

Cities Where Crime Is Soaring in Every State

Source: devardhan / Wikimedia Commons

21. Massachusetts: Pittsfield
> 5-yr. Change in crime rate: +60.4% (metro area) -11.7% (state)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 558 (metro area) 358 (state)
> 2017 murders: 4 (metro area) 173 (state)
> 2017 unemployment: 4.4% (metro area) 3.7% (state)

Among major metropolitan areas across Massachusetts, violent crime generally either increased slightly — by 0.8% in Springfield — or fell substantially. In Boston, the violent crime rate fell by 14%, from 355 incidents per 100,000 people in 2012 to 305 per 100,000 in 2017.

The notable major exception in the Bay State was Pittsfield, where the violent crime rate rose from 348 incidents per 100,000 in 2012 — below the national rate at the time — to 558 per 100,000 in 2017, well above the national rate. The 60.4% spike in the violent crime rate is the sixth largest jump of any U.S. metropolitan area. Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn explained that the opioid epidemic has been partially responsible for the increase in reported crime, both violent and non-violent. “At some point, whether it’s to support a habit or in connection with something else, we’re going to find somebody who’s substance addicted during our investigation,” he told a local radio station.

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22. Michigan: Kalamazoo-Portage
> 5-yr. Change in crime rate: +39.6% (metro area) -1.0% (state)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 501 (metro area) 450 (state)
> 2017 murders: 16 (metro area) 569 (state)
> 2017 unemployment: 4.5% (metro area) 4.6% (state)

The violent crime rate fell by 1% in Michigan in the last five years. Breaking from the broader trend, Kalamazoo-Portage reported a 39.6% jump in the incidence of violence over the same period, by far the largest increase of any metro area in the state. The increase was driven largely by a 51.2% surge in aggravated assaults.

While violence has become more common in recent years in the metro area, other types of crimes are becoming less common. The property crime rate in Kalamazoo-Portage improved by 5.7% since 2012, driven by declines in larceny and burglary.

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23. Minnesota: None
> 5-yr. Change in crime rate: +3.2% (state)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 238 (state)
> 2017 murders: 113 (state)
> 2017 unemployment: 3.5% (state)

Minnesota is one of the safest states in the country, with a violent crime rate of just 238 incidents per 100,000 residents. The violent crime rate in each of the state’s five major metropolitan areas is well below the national rate of 383 incidents per 100,000 people. In the metro area with the highest violent crime rate, Minneapolis, there were 100 fewer incidents per 100,000 residents than the national violent crime rate. Rochester, Minnesota’s violent crime rate of 146 per 100,000 is less than half the U.S. rate.

Due to changes in reporting practices, it cannot be determined if the violent crime rate increased in any of Minnesota’s metro areas in the last five years.

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24. Mississippi: None
> 5-yr. Change in crime rate: +9.5% (state)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 286 (state)
> 2017 murders: 245 (state)
> 2017 unemployment: 5.1% (state)

Jackson is the only metro area in Mississippi with comparable violent crime rates from 2012 and 2017. Over that period, the violent crime rate dipped by 12.8% in the metro area. Even as the state capital became safer, however, rates of violent crimes increased across Mississippi as a whole. The violent crime rate across the state climbed by 9.5% over the last five years.

If these trends continue, Jackson may soon become safer than the state as a whole. Currently, there are 338 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in Jackson, well above the violent crime rate across Mississippi of 286 per 100,000.

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25. Missouri: St. Joseph
> 5-yr. Change in crime rate: +32.0% (metro area) +17.6% (state)
> 2017 violent crimes per 100,000 people: 415 (metro area) 530 (state)
> 2017 murders: 8 (metro area) 600 (state)
> 2017 unemployment: 3.4% (metro area) 3.8% (state)

In all of Missouri’s five major metro areas with available data the violent crime rates exceed the national rate of 383 incidents per 100,000 people. Of those, all but one had substantial increases in violent crime over the past five years, a period in which violent crime rates fell nationwide. St.Joseph, Missouri, does not have the highest violent crime rate in the state, but it had the largest increase over the past five years, a 32% spike.

Property crime and violent crime have different drivers, but high levels or growth in one category often corresponds with high levels or growth in the other. St. Joseph’s property crime rate rose by 8% over the last five years, one of the largest increases among all U.S. metro areas. .