The Safest and Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.

May 8, 2018

Michigan has three and Florida two in a list of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the U.S. produced by a security industry group using FBI crime data.

Based on average rate of violent crime per 100,000 population, the top 10 most dangerous cities are:

  1. East St. Louis, Illinois
  2. Darby Borough, Pennsylvania
  3. Opa Locka, Florida
  4. Florida City, Florida
  5. Flint, Michigan
  6. Detroit, Michigan
  7. Saginaw City, Michigan
  8. College Park, Georgia
  9. Prichard, Alabama
  10. West Memphis, Arkansas

The National Council for Home Safety and Security released the top 10 ranking, which is a subset of its larger report, Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in America ranking.

The group is a Washington, D.C.-based national trade association of licensed alarm installers and contractors. No membership list is currently available. The group’s goal is to “further industry education and public knowledge about home safety and security.”

Zeroing-in on larger cities, the NCHSS report identifies the top 10 most dangerous cities with populations of more than 100,000:

  1. Flint, MI
  2. Detroit, MI
  3. Oakland, CA
  4. St. Louis, MO
  5. Memphis, TN
  6. Birmingham, AL
  7. Little Rock, AR
  8. Baltimore City, MD
  9. Stockton, CA
  10. Cleveland, OH

Despite the high violent crime rates in some cities, the report cites evidence in the FBI data that, overall, the violence has been lessening, and that trend is likely to continue. For 71 percent of the top 100 list, violent crime has dropped in recent years, often by double digits. Similarly, 7 of the top 10 most dangerous cities have seen double digit percentage drops in violent crime.

The report notes that a high population does not mean that a city will have a high violent crime rate. Many of the top 100 most dangerous cities are relatively small, with 68 of the top 100 having populations under 50,000, and 37 possessing populations under 20,000. However, the authors write, many of these smaller communities are adjacent to larger metropolitan areas, such as #2 Darby Borough, Penn. (population: 11,000), which is located five miles outside of Philadelphia, and Florida City, Fla., which lies just outside of Miami.

“Many of these smaller communities have violent crime rates similar to the most dangerous neighborhoods of the larger cities they are adjacent to, and in many cases, they border these neighborhoods. The difference is that the larger cities also have more affluent, low crime areas that lower their overall violent crime rates, while their smaller satellite cities do not,” the report says.

The analysis is based on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting database for the years 2010-2014 (the most recent years available) for multiple jurisdictions. This database is restricted to law enforcement agencies that serve at least 10,000 people. After eliminating data for any jurisdiction that was purely “regional” (not a municipality), not present at least 3 of the 5 years, or with multiple missing entries, the analysts focused on the remaining 3,482 towns and cities, according to the stated methodology.

Safest Cities

What about the safest communities?

Another organization— NeighborhoodScout, a web-based platform from geographic data science firm Location, in February issued its annual list of the Top 100 Safest U.S. Cities for 2018 that uses somewhat different criteria. This list compares cities with 25,000 or more people nationwide, based on the number of crimes reported and the population of each city. NeighborhoodScout’s analysis factors in all reported crimes — not only violent crimes— from all 18,000 local law enforcement agencies across the country.

Neighborhood Scout’s Top 10 Safest Communities (cities with 25,000 or more people)

  1. Ridgefield, CT
  2. Bergenfield, NJ
  3. Franklin, MA
  4. Lexington, MA
  5. Shrewsbury, MA
  6. Zionsville, TN
  7. Buffalo Grove, IL
  8. Weston, FL
  9. Lake in the Hills, IL
  10. Billerica, MA

NeighborhoodScout’s complete list of 100 safest cities.

NeighborhoodScout Selected Top 100 Safest Cities in the U.S. – 2018
* Cities with 25,000 or more people nationwide
2018 Rank City, State 2017 Rank
#100 Shelton, CT #90
#80 Wakefield, MA N/A
#60 Bella Vista, AR #73
#40 Huntley, IL #43
#20 Harrison, NY #26
#1 Safest City Ridgefield, CT #3

NeighborhoodScout identifies the states with the most communities in the top 100 safest list: Massachusetts (19), Illinois (18), California (10), Connecticut and Texas (tied with 6) and New Jersey (5).

“We continue to see bedroom communities, which are within large metro areas and near major urban centers like Boston, Chicago, and New York, make the top of our list,” said Dr. Andrew Schiller, CEO and founder of Location, Inc. and NeighborhoodScout. “These safe communities within the urban/suburban fabric of America’s largest metropolitan areas often combine access to high-paying jobs in the urban center, decent schools, and a high quality of life. This access to opportunity increases home values, with the result often being lower crime.”

Schiller cited, for example, Ridgefield, Conn., the city ranked the safest, which is in close proximity to New York, Stamford, Danbury and other business and financial hubs, making it appealing to professionals. “Families also appreciate Ridgefield’s combination of top public schools, low crime rates, and owner-occupied single-family homes,” said this report.

These location qualities — top schools, low crime, single family homes — appear repeatedly among states with the largest number of cities making the list, including Massachusetts and Illinois, NeighborhoodScout said.

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