There were 1.2 million violent crimes — murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults — committed in the United States in 2019, according to the most recent available FBI data. The 2019 national crime rate of 367 incidents for every 100,000 Americans is almost exactly in line with where it was five years ago.
A handful of major metropolitan areas have not followed the national trend, however. Dozens of U.S. cities are reporting violent crime rates over 20% higher than they were five years ago. Not confined to one specific region, these cities span the country, from the deep South to the upper Midwest, and from the Northeast to the Southwest.
Using data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime report, 24/7 Wall St. identified 25 cities to be finalists in an exercise to find the one where crime is soaring the most. In each metro area that was a finalist, the population-adjusted violent crime rate climbed by at least 32.5% between 2014 and 2019.
It is important to note that in the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had an impact on crime patterns in the United States. Preliminary data from major cities across the country reveal a decline in crime during the pandemic, despite an uptick in shootings and killings. Exactly how these trends will impact the overall violent crime rate in the finalists for the city where crime is rising the most and nationwide remains to be seen.
While every city that was a finalist has reported a surge in violent crime in recent years, not every city is especially dangerous. Despite rising crime rates, many of these cities remain far safer than the U.S. as a whole. Others, however, may have been safer or as safe as the U.S. five years ago but now have violent crime rates two and even three times higher than the national average.
Kokomo, Indiana, the American city where crime is soaring the most, reported a 144.6% increase in violent crime between 2014 and 2019, according to FBI data. As is often the case in areas with rising rates of violence, aggravated assault was the primary driver of the increase, as the population-adjusted number of cases surged by 221.2%. The annual violent crime rate in the Kokomo area stands at 555 incidents per 100,000 people, well above the 367 per 100,000 national rate.
According to local law enforcement officials, the nation-leading spike in the violent crime rate is not necessarily attributable to a surge in crime. In 2015, Kokomo switched to a new reporting system that broadened the types of crime classified as aggravated assaults. However, homicides, rapes, and robberies have also each increased in the metro area far more than they have nationwide since 2014.
Our methodology: To determine the city where crime is soaring the most, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. We ranked cities based on the percentage increase in violent crimes — which include murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — per 100,000 residents from 2014 to 2019. Data on population also came from the FBI. Supplemental data on poverty came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. Data on unemployment came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.