America’s Most Dangerous Cities

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Lubbock, Texas
Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

30. Lubbock, Texas
> 2018 violent crime rate: 996.6 per 100,000 people
> 2018 homicides: 13
> Poverty rate: 19.8%
> 2018 unemployment rate: 3.1%

Lubbock, a city of about a quarter of a million people in northwest Texas, is the third most dangerous city in the state and the 30th most dangerous nationwide. There were 2,565 violent crimes in the city in 2018 — or about 997 for every 100,000 people. For context, the national violent crime rate is 369 per 100,000.

Recently, dozens of community leaders in the city met at the Crimes Victims Coalition’s Hope, Health, and Healing Conference to learn to identify signs of domestic crimes that are going unaddressed.

Chicago, Illinois
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29. Chicago, Illinois
> 2018 violent crime rate: 1,006.1 per 100,000 people
> 2018 homicides: 563
> Poverty rate: 20.6%
> 2018 unemployment rate: 4.2%

Chicago is one of 29 midsize to large U.S. cities tracked by the FBI with a violent crime rate of over 1,000 incidents per 100,000 people. There were 563 homicides reported in Chicago in 2018, by far the most of any U.S. city. For context, there were 295 murders the same year in New York, a city with a population more than triple that of Chicago. Robberies are also especially common in Chicago, with 356 incidents per 100,000 people — more than four times the comparable robbery rate nationwide.

Gun violence in Chicago is typically connected to gang activity and drug trafficking. Aside from those two hallmarks, there are few other patterns city officials can identify to help stem epidemic.

Houston, Texas
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28. Houston, Texas
> 2018 violent crime rate: 1,026.1 per 100,000 people
> 2018 homicides: 276
> Poverty rate: 21.2%
> 2018 unemployment rate: 4.2%

Home to over 2.3 million people, and with a violent crime rate of 1,026 incidents for every 100,000 people, Houston is the most dangerous very large city in the United States. The robbery rate is especially high in Houston. There were 374 robberies reported for every 100,000 city residents in 2018, more than in all but nine other cities tracked by the FBI and more than quadruple the national robbery rate. Additionally, Houston’s murder rate of 11.8 per 100,000 is more than double the comparable national rate.

South Bend, Indiana
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27. South Bend, Indiana
> 2018 violent crime rate: 1,039.1 per 100,000 people
> 2018 homicides: 9
> Poverty rate: 25.4%
> 2018 unemployment rate: 4.0%

South Bend is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. There were 1,064 violent crimes committed in the city in 2018 — or 1,039 for every 100,000 people, nearly triple the national violent crime rate of 369 per 100,000. Crime tends to be more common in areas with limited economic opportunity, and in South Bend, more than one in every four residents live below the poverty line.

Since Decomocratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg took office as mayor of the city, crime rates have actually fallen. During Buttigieg’s tenure, the city police department enacted South Bend Group Violence Intervention — a program designed to reduce gun violence by focusing on gangs and other groups most likely to commit violence.

Buffalo, New York
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26. Buffalo, New York
> 2018 violent crime rate: 1,042.5 per 100,000 people
> 2018 homicides: 57
> Poverty rate: 30.9%
> 2018 unemployment rate: 5.7%

Buffalo is the only city in New York state to rank on this list. There were 2,692 violent crimes committed in the city in 2018, or about 1,043 for every 100,000 residents, well above the 369 per 100,000 national crime rate. As is often the case in cities with higher than average crime rates, many of Buffalo’s residents are struggling economically. The city’s average annual unemployment of 5.7% is far higher than the 3.9% national rate in 2018. Additionally, 30.9% of people in Buffalo live below the poverty line, more than double the comparable national poverty rate of 14.9%.

The city has adopted a holistic approach to crime reduction through the Community Crime Prevention Initiative. The program brings community members, faith-based leaders, and law enforcement together to identify and plan solutions.