Crime index*: 4.71
Murder rate (per 100,000): 48.2
Motor City claimed the top spot for highest overall crime rate among cities with 250,000 or more residents, according to CQ Press’ annual analysis of FBI data for 2011.
With 342 murders in 2011, Detroit trailed only New Orleans in terms of homicide rate. And the city reported the highest rate of assaults out of any other major city.
The FBI warns that ranking cities based on crime data can be misleading because each city reports crimes differently and some crimes go unreported.
Crime index*: 3.63
Murder rate (per 100,000): 35.3
Even though it still ranks second on the most dangerous cities list, St. Louis is a lot safer than it used to be. Murders have been cut in half over the past two decades — as have the numbers for other violent crimes.
Still, at about 35 murders per 100,000 residents in 2011, St. Louis claims the third highest homicide rate of any major city.
One reason St. Louis’s crime rate is so high is that the city has not grown beyond its very constricted borders, according to criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Other cities have expanded outward by swallowing up safer nearby communities, which helps dilute the overall crime stats. Oklahoma City’s reporting area, for example, is nearly 10 times the size of St. Louis’.
Crime index*: 3.49
Murder rate (per 100,000): 26.3
Gang violence is one of the biggest issues plaguing Oakland, according to a report published in 2012 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Homicides jumped 15% to 104 in 2011. Robbery is another big problem: Oakland leads all large cities in robbery with 851 robberies per 100,000 residents.