America's Danger...The FBI announced that violent crime dropped 4% in 2011, compared to a 5.5% drop in 2010. Nationally, the murder rate fell 1.9% from 2010, and robbery, forcible rape and assault fell 4% each. However, among the cities with the highest violent crimes rates, the trend is not entirely positive.
A 24/7 Wall St. review of 2011 FBI crime data shows that violent crime rose in more than half of the cities that have among the highest rates in the country. In seven of the 10 cities, murder rates increased. In eight of the 10, burglary went up.
Strained budgets are forcing police layoffs that many cities cannot afford to make. More than half of local police departments that responded to a national survey reported cuts in the 2011 fiscal year, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, an organization of police executives from across the country. Many are cutting police forces through planned layoffs and attrition. (iStock)
5. Memphis, Tenn...Violent crimes per 1,000: 15.8 Population: 652,725 2011 murders: 117 Median income: $37,045 Unemployment rate: 11.1% (iStock)
Why Memphis Is D...In 2011, Memphis defied the national trend of declining crime rates in major U.S. cities. The rate of violent crimes per 1,000 people increased, from 15.4 to 15.8. This was the product of increases in murders, which rose from 89 to 117 cases, and aggravated assault incidents, which rose by 100 cases. A rising unemployment rate, which grew 1.2% to 11.1% in 2011, likely has not helped to reduce criminal behavior. With a current budget deficit of $45 million, Mayor Wharton says he may need to consider “taking boots off the street,” by laying off members of the police force in the near future. (iStock)
4. Oakland, Cali...Violent crimes per 1,000: 16.8 Population: 395,317 2011 murders: 104 Median income: $49,190 Unemployment rate: 15.6% (iStock)
Why Oakland Is D...Oakland historically has been among the most crime-ridden cities in California, with a violent crime rate this year of 16.8 per 1,000 people. There were 14 more murders in 2011 than in 2010, causing Oakland to maintain the ninth-highest murder rate in the country two years in a row. Oakland is the number one city for both robbery and motor vehicle theft rates in the country. Oakland city councilmember Desley Brooks, who wants to allocate $11 million in revenue to the police force, acknowledges the increased violent crime, saying, “we cannot ignore that we have had an increase in violent crime, and so we cannot continue to do the same thing the same way and expect that it’s going to be a different result.” (iStock)
3. St. Louis, Mo...Violent crimes per 1,000: 18.6 Population: 320,454 2011 murders: 113 Median income: $32,688 Unemployment rate: 11.7% (iStock)
Why St. Louis Is...Although the total number of murders in the city has decreased by 31 since 2010, crime in St. Louis did not improve overall last year. Violent crime rates in St. Louis have risen dramatically, from 17.5 to 18.6 cases per 1,000 people. And the city’s murder rate is still the fourth highest in the nation, its robbery rate is the fifth highest in the nation and its aggravated assault rate is third highest in the nation. Despite these troubling facts, the St. Louis Police Department recently faced potentially drastic budget cuts, that may require the elimination of 100 street-patrolling officer positions through attrition. (iStock)
2. Detroit, Mich...Violent crimes per 1,000: 21.4 Population: 713,239 2011 murders: 344 Median income: $25,787 Unemployment rate: 19.9% (iStock)
Why Detroit Is D...Long regarded as one of the poorest cities in the U.S., with a 32.3% poverty rate and nearly 20% unemployment in 2010, Detroit has the second-highest violent crime rate in the country. Homicide increased by 11% in 2011, while robbery and aggravated assault are fourth and second highest in the country, respectively. Nonviolent crime is also an issue, with burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson rates in the top 10 rankings in the country. In response to an 18% decrease in the Detroit police budget, which will result in the elimination of 380 positions through attrition and early retirement, the city has begun taking steps to decrease police funding by introducing “Virtual Precincts.” The plan, which closes police stations between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m, requires citizens to report non-emergency crime to a call center, and frees up more patrol officers to respond to 911 emergency calls. (iStock)
1. Flint, Mich.Violent crimes per 1,000: 23.4 Population: 102,357 2011 murders: 52 Median income: $22,672 Unemployment rate: 18.9% (iStock)
Why Flint Is Dan...According to the FBI examined, no city with more than 100,000 residents had a higher violent crime rate than Flint. In 2011, there were 2,392 incidents of violent crime in Flint, which has a population just above 100,000. That same year, there were just 1,246 violent crimes in all 10 of the safest cities in America — which have 13 times as many residents as Flint among them. Flint has the second-highest murder rate and the highest rates of aggravated assault, burglary and arson in the nation. According to Flint Mayor Dayne Walling: “there are too many guns on the street and it’s easy for individuals with evil motives to take another human being’s life.” Though the violent crime has long been a problem in Flint, in 2010 the city laid off 20 of its 140 police officers, a decision that diminished both the police’s street presence and response times to crime.(iStock)