Special Report

This Is America's Most Dangerous City

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20. Stockton, CA
> Violent crime rate: 723 per 100,000 people (5,517 total crimes)
> 1-yr. change in violent crime rate: -8.3%
> Homicide rate: 11.0 per 100,000 people (84 total homicides)
> Poverty rate: 13.7%

Stockton ranks as the most dangerous metro area in California and one of the most dangerous nationwide. There were 5,517 violent crimes reported in the city in 2020, or 723 for every 100,000 people. Though the city’s overall violent crime rate fell by 8.3% last year, the number of homicides spiked. There were 84 homicides committed in Stockton in 2020, a 68% increase from 50 in 2019.

A local police spokesman attributed the increase, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic, as there were 15 homicides resulting from domestic disputes in the city proper last year, when in normal years, there are one or two such murders. The vast majority of all homicides in Stockton last year involved firearms.

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19. Corpus Christi, TX
> Violent crime rate: 738 per 100,000 people (3,176 total crimes)
> 1-yr. change in violent crime rate: +0.1%
> Homicide rate: 10.0 per 100,000 people (43 total homicides)
> Poverty rate: 15.6%

In a break from the national trend, the violent crime rate in the Corpus Christi, Texas, metro area did not change meaningfully in 2020. Still, the metro area remains among the most dangerous in the country, with 738 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 people in 2020. The city also reported a 22.9% increase in homicides, from 35 in 2019 to 43 in 2020.

A spokesman for the Corpus Christi Police Department has said that in order to lower crime rates, law enforcement is applying for federal grants and is hiring more officers. Local officers are also engaged in community outreach to improve relations with city residents.

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18. Gainesville, FL
> Violent crime rate: 760 per 100,000 people (2,516 total crimes)
> 1-yr. change in violent crime rate: +9.9%
> Homicide rate: 5.1 per 100,000 people (17 total homicides)
> Poverty rate: 18.5%

Following a 9.9% increase, the violent crime rate in the Gainesville, Florida, metro area stands at 760 incidents per 100,000 — higher than in the vast majority of U.S. metropolitan areas and nearly double the U.S. violent crime rate. The increase in violent crime was led by homicides, which more than doubled from seven in 2019 to 17 in 2020.

In addition to a spike in murders, Gainesville also reported an uptick in robberies and aggravated assault cases in 2020. Violence, in particular gun violence, has continued into 2021. The Gainesville Police Department received a reported 189 calls for gunfire from January through July alone.

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17. Rockford, IL
> Violent crime rate: 771 per 100,000 people (2,566 total crimes)
> 1-yr. change in violent crime rate: +21.5%
> Homicide rate: 10.8 per 100,000 people (36 total homicides)
> Poverty rate: 16.1%

Rockford is the second most dangerous metro area in Illinois and the fourth most dangerous in the Midwest. There were 2,566 violent crimes reported in Rockford in 2020, or 771 for every 100,000 people. Violent crimes surged in 2020, and the area’s violent crime rate is now 21.5% higher than it was in 2019.

Rising rates of violence in the metro area were led by an 80% spike in murders, from 20 in 2019 to 36 in 2020. The metro area also reported a 30% jump in cases of aggravated assault last year.

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16. Lake Charles, LA
> Violent crime rate: 789 per 100,000 people (1,663 total crimes)
> 1-yr. change in violent crime rate: +44.0%
> Homicide rate: 9.0 per 100,000 people (19 total homicides)
> Poverty rate: 20.4%

Lake Charles, Louisiana’s violent crime rate is nearly double the U.S. rate. There were 1,663 violent crimes reported in the metro area in 2020, or 789 for every 100,000 people. Due entirely to a surge in cases of aggravated assaults, Lake Charles’ violent crime rate is 44% higher now than it was in 2019.

Rates of violence are often higher in places with limited economic opportunity — and in Lake Charles, 20.4% of the population live below the poverty line, and average unemployment in 2020 was 8.9%. This compares to the national 12.3% poverty rate and 8.1% jobless rate that year.