Comeback Cities: Declining Crime Across the U.S.

Comeback Cities: Declining Crime Across the U.S.

Posted on

Across the country, crime rates have been on a decline. Property crime, in particular, has been on a decline over the past 10 years, with trends showing that in 2016, property crime decreased by 19.9% when compared to 2007. Cities, in particular, have shown great decreases in all crimes.

Some cities have improved more than others, though. Twenty cities shine above the rest, with 10-year total crimes dropping more than 3.5%.
 

Top 20 Comeback Cities | Top 5 Cities (pop. >300K) | Top 5 Cities (pop. 100-300K) | Top 5 Cities (pop. <100K) | Top 5 Cities for Crime Growth | Top 100 Cities | Methodology

 

Key Takeaways

Florida residents have seen less crime in the Sunshine State, thanks to declining crime rates in four cities across the state. Michigan came in close to being the state with the most cities in the top 20, with three cities making it onto our list.

As for city size, large population cities make up most of the Top 20 overall. Only one city with less than 100,000 residents had one of the top spots, while every single city in the Top 5 with more than 300,000 residents also made it onto the Top 20 list.

As far as crime growth goes, there are some cities that saw a rise in crime between 2006 and 2016. The cities are located across the country, with cities from Anchorage, Alaska all the way to Washington, DC in the Top 5 for most crime growth.

 

Top 20 Comeback Cities

#1 – Detroit, MI (-3.57%)
The most populous city in Michigan (with a population of more than 4.3 million), Detroit now boasts the “most improved” badge when it comes to property crimes in the U.S. over the past 10 years. The 19 million visitors per year and residents alike can rest easy when visiting Detroit knowing that crimes decreased 3.57% between 2006 and 2016.

#2 – Myrtle Beach, SC (-3.35%)
Known to be the center of the 60-mile “Grand Stand” of beaches along South Carolina’s coast, Myrtle Beach residents know that Myrtle Beach is a safe place to have some fun in the sun. The city saw crime drop 3.35% over ten years. According to Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, the decline was due to the city’s investment in two key resources – manpower and technology – making Myrtle Beach “both a safe place to live and vacation.”

#3 – Laredo, TX (-2.80%)
As Texas’ tenth-most populous city, Laredo rounds out the top three most improved cities for crime in the United States. Washington’s Birthday Celebration–held every January and February–attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to Laredo each year to participate in the Jalapeno Festival, Border Beer Fest, parades and more. Whether you’re traveling for the event or you live there full-time, you’ll feel better knowing crime in Laredo decreased 2.8% between 2006 and 2016.

#4 – Yakima, WA (-2.76%)
Washington’s 11th largest city and located just 60 miles southeast of Mount Rainier, Yakima, WA is noted for its wine, apple and hop production. With a population of more than 93,000, Yakima is home to a variety of people, all of whom can feel safer with the knowledge that crime dropped 2.76% over 10 years.

#5 – Hot Springs, AR (-2.71%)
Nestled among the Ouachita Mountains alongside several natural hot springs, Hot Springs, Arkansas is home to more than 35,000 people. Between 2006 and 2016, property crimes in Hot Springs per 100,000 residents dropped from 7446.7 to 4732.2, landing it on our list with a decline of 2.71%.

#6 – Fayetteville, NC (-2.62%)
Home of Fort Bragg, Fayetteville is the largest metropolitan area in southeastern North Carolina with more than 378,000 residents. Between 2006 and 2016, property and violent crimes in Fayetteville dropped 2.62%.

#7 – Sarasota, FL (-2.43%)
You can now rest a little easier on Sarasota’s inviting beaches alongside the city’s 784,372 residents. Over the past 10 years, crimes in the southwestern Florida city have dropped 2.43%, putting it at number seven on our list.

#8 – Lodi, CA (-2.38%)
The “Zinfandel Capital of the World” is no stranger to crime. In 2006, the city experienced 6309.7 crimes per 100,000 residents. But in 2016, that number dropped to just 3927.3 per 100,000 residents for a decline of 2.38%.

#9 – Porterville, CA (-2.38%)
The gateway to Sequoia National Forest, Giant Sequoia National Monument and Kings Canyon National Park, Porterville has rapidly grown over the past 10 years. Luckily, the crime rate has decreased as the population has risen. Porterville saw a 2.38% decrease in crime over the 10-year span.

#10 – Jackson, TN (-2.35%)
70 miles east of Memphis, Jackson, TN is a regional center of trade for West Tennessee and the eighth-largest city in Tennessee with a population of 129,606. Between 2006 and 2016, Jackson saw a 2.35% drop in total crime, putting it right in the middle of our list.

#11 – Salisbury, MD (-2.34%)
Located at the head of the Wicomico River, Salisbury is a commercial hub that’s home to more than 39,000 people. Between 2006 and 2016, total crimes in Salisbury dropped 2.34%, with violent crimes dropping an impressive 0.5% and property crimes dropping 1.84%.

#12 – Memphis, TN (-2.33%)
With a population of more than 1.34 million people, Memphis is a booming Tennessee metropolis. And all those residents can rest a little easier knowing that total crime dropped 2.33% between 2006 and 2016.

#13 – Mount Vernon, WA (-2.26%)
Home to the annual Tulip Festival Street Fair, Mount Vernon is a well-loved small city in the county seat of Skagit County, Washington. With a population of about 123,000, Mount Vernon saw a 2.26% drop in total crime and a 2.22% drop in property crime over 10 years.

#14 – Tampa, FL (-2.26%)
Florida’s west coast wouldn’t be complete without the booming city of Tampa. The population has exponentially grown over the past 10 years, but all those new residents don’t mean an increase in crime. In fact, total crimes have decreased by 2.26%.

#15 – Flint, MI (-2.22%)
Still recovering from the water crisis, Flint has also made great strides in combating crime. Total crime in Flint dropped 2.22% between 2006 and 2016, with property crimes dropping 1.92% in those 10 years.

#16 – Fort Myers, FL (-2.22%)
A southwest Florida tourist destination, Fort Myers is a rapidly growing city. Though the population has grown to more than 720,000, crime rates declined 2.22% between 2006 and 2016.

#17 – Corpus Christi, TX (-2.21%)
This coastal city in south Texas is the eighth-most populous city in the state with a population of more than 456,000. Between 2006 and 2016, total crimes dropped from 6438.5 per 100,000 to just 4227.

#18 – Gainesville, FL (-2.17%)
Ranked as one of the “best places to live and play”, by National Geographic Adventure, Gainesville is even better to live and play in now. That’s because total crime dropped 2.17% between 2006 and 2016, with property crimes, in particular, improving by 1.77%.

#19 – Springfield, OH (-2.15%)
Southwestern Ohio is home to Springfield, a city with more than 135,000 residents located 45 miles west of Columbus. Between 2006 and 2016, total crime decreased by 2.15% and property crime decreased by 2.06%.

#20 – Saginaw, MI (-2.14%)
This Central Michigan city rounds out our list with a 2.14% decrease in total crime over the 10 years. The roughly 192,000 residents of the city can feel safer knowing that violent crime had a particularly good decrease, with a 0.48% drop between 2006 and 2016.

 

Top 5 Cities (Population >300,000)

Large cities are notorious for their crime rates, but these cities show that even the biggest cities can improve over time. As the #1 overall, Detroit, MI (pop. 4,302,722) tops this list and is closely followed by Myrtle Beach, SC.

#1 – Detroit (-3.57%)
The most populous city in Michigan (with a population of more than 4.3 million), Detroit now boasts the “most improved” badge when it comes to property crimes in the U.S. over the past 10 years. The 19 million visitors per year can rest easy when visiting Detroit knowing that crimes decreased 3.57% between 2006 and 2016.

#2 – Myrtle Beach, SC (-3.35%)
Known to be the center of the 60-mile “Grand Stand” of beaches along South Carolina’s coast, Myrtle Beach residents know that Myrtle Beach is a safe place to have some fun in the sun. The city saw crime drop 3.35% over ten years. According to Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune, the decline was due to the city’s investment in two key resources – manpower and technology – making Myrtle Beach “both a safe place to live and vacation.”

#3 – Fayetteville, NC (-2.62%)
Home of Fort Bragg, Fayetteville is the largest metropolitan area in southeastern North Carolina with more than 378,000 residents. Between 2006 and 2016, property and violent crimes in Fayetteville dropped 2.62%.

#4 – Sarasota, FL (-2.43%)
You can now rest a little easier on Sarasota’s inviting beaches alongside the city’s 784,372 residents. Over the past 10 years, crimes in the southwestern Florida city have dropped 2.43%, putting it at number seven on our list.

#5 – Lodi, CA (-2.38%)
The “Zinfandel Capital of the World” is no stranger to crime. In 2006, the city experienced 6309.7 crimes per 100,000 residents. But in 2016, that number dropped to just 3927.3 per 100,000 residents, putting Lodi fifth for cities larger than 300,000.

 

Top 5 Cities (Population 100,000-300,000)

Mid-sized cities also saw decreases in crime rates over the ten-year span, with Laredo, TX topping the list with a decrease of 2.8%. Cities from around the country, all the way from Washington to Florida, round out the top 5 in this category.

#1 – Laredo, TX (-2.80%)
Texas’ tenth-most populous city, Laredo rounds out the top three most improved cities in the United States and nabs the top spot for medium-sized cities. Washington’s Birthday Celebration–held every January and February–attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to Laredo each year to participate in the Jalapeno Festival, Border Beer Fest, parades and more. Travelers and residents alike can rest easy knowing crime there decreased by 2.8% between 2006 and 2016.

#2 – Yakima, WA (-2.76%)
Washington’s 11th largest city and located just 60 miles southeast of Mount Rainier, Yakima, WA is noted for its wine, apple and hop production. With a population of more than 93,000, Yakima is home to a variety of people.

#3 – Jackson, TN (-2.35%)
70 miles east of Memphis, Jackson, TN is a regional center of trade for West Tennessee and the eighth-largest city in Tennessee with a population of 129606. Between 2006 and 2016, Jackson saw a 2.35% drop in total crime, putting it right in the middle of our list.

#4 – Mount Vernon, WA (-2.26%)
Home to the annual Tulip Festival Street Fair, Mount Vernon is a well-loved small city in the county seat of Skagit County, Washington. With a population of about 123,000, Mount Vernon saw a 2.26% drop in total crime and a 2.22% drop in property crime over 10 years.

#5 – Gainesville, FL (-2.17%)
Ranked as one of the “best places to live and play”, by National Geographic Adventure in 2007, Gainesville is even better to live and play in now. That’s because total crime dropped 2.17% between 2006 and 2016, with property crimes, in particular, improving by 1.77%.

 

Top 5 Cities (Population <100,000)

Only Hot Springs, AR was able to make it into the Top 20 out of all cities with populations fewer than 100,000. Following it in the Top 5 for small city populations are cities such as Casper, WY and Ocean City, NJ, which both experienced good decreases in crime between 2006 and 2016.

#1 – Hot Springs, AR (-2.71%)
Nestled among the Ouachita Mountains alongside several natural hot springs, Hot Springs, Arkansas is home to more than 35,000 people. Between 2006 and 2016, property crime in Hot Springs dropped from 7446.7 to 4732.2, landing it on our list with a decline of 2.71%.

#2 – Casper, WY (-2.04%)
The second largest city in Wyoming, Casper is home to more than 82,000 people. “The Oil City” has seen good crime decline over the past decade or so, with crime rate reducing 2.04%.

#3 – Ocean City, NJ (-1.84%)
Located in Cape May County, Ocean City has been named the “#1 family beach community in the country” by the Travel Channel. As a dry town, it’s no surprise that crime continues to drop in Ocean City. It showed a 1.84% decrease in total crime between 2006 and 2016.

#4 – Fairbanks, AK (-1.55%)
You can feel a bit safer when you chase the aurora borealis in this Alaskan town. Crimes in Fairbanks declined 1.55% in the 10-year span, so natives and travelers alike can enjoy the rich culture and authentic Alaskan activities and attractions without worry.

#5 – Columbus, IN (-1.20%)
Just 40 miles south of Indianapolis and 70 miles north of Louisville, Columbus, IN is home to more than 81,000 people and loads of impressive architecture. The city rounds out our list of most improved crime rates for cities with less than 100,000 people after showing a 1.2% decrease in crime between 2006 and 2016.

 

Top 5 Cities for Crime Growth

Unfortunately, while some cities were able to decrease their crime between 2006 and 2016, others experienced an increase in both violent and property crimes. These five cities, in particular, had the most growth. Did your city make the list?

#1 – Medford, OR (+1.36%)
This southern Oregon city had the most crime growth of all cities in the country, with more than 4,600 crimes per 100,000 residents occurring in 2016 alone. This put it at a growth of 1.36% in total crime between 2006 and 2016, landing it the top spot on our list.

#2 – Washington, DC (+1.06%)
Our nation’s capital experienced great crime growth in the ten-year span, with a 1.06% jump in total crime. Violent crime rose 0.15%, while property crime saw a large jump with a 0.9% increase.

#3 – Spokane, WA (+0.83%)
Spokane offers everything from outdoor adventures to casinos, but the city’s safety has decreased with expansion. Total crime increased 0.83% between 2006 and 2016, but surprisingly, violent crime went down 0.07%, with an increase in property crimes making up the difference.

#4 – Farmington, NM (+0.78%)
As the largest city in San Juan County, Farmington is home to more than 116,000 residents. Between 2006 and 2016, those residents saw crime jump 0.78%, with violent crime rising 0.35% and property crime rising 0.43% in 10 years.

#5 – Anchorage, AK (+0.77%)
Alaska’s largest city is home to magnificent glaciers, wildlife, and rich native culture. With a population of more than 315,000, Anchorage saw a rise in crime with violent crime rising 0.39% and property crimes growing 0.58% for a total jump of 0.77%.

 

Top 100 Comeback Cities

Your city didn’t make the top 20 list for comeback cities? Perhaps your city made it on the top 100 list:

 

Methodology

We compared total crime (violent crimes+property crimes) per 100,000 residents from the last decade in 289 cities/metropolitan areas from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) database. The most recently published data is from 2016, so we used this data and compared it against data from 2006 to see the change in crime over time. Both the violent crime and property crimes data were analyzed per 100,000 residents. Finally, we created a percentage difference by which we ranked each city/metropolitan area. 

The actual data was reported in some cases not by city alone, but by metropolitan area. In circumstances where the data was listed by metropolitan area instead of by city, we picked one city to represent each metropolitan area (example: the city of Myrtle Beach was chosen from the Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach metropolitan area). Therefore it is important to know that crime rates may not reflect a single city, but their larger metropolitan area.

 

Conclusion

Crime in the United States is thankfully on the decline. Large and small cities alike have seen a decrease in crimes over the past 10 years, with large cities making up a large percentage of the Top 20 who have seen the most decline. Florida and Michigan, in particular, dominated the Top 20 list, with cities from the two states making up almost half of the list. All in all, crime is on the decline, so residents across the country can rest a little easier today.

 

Sources

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *