Americans tend to trick themselves into believing that crimes only constitute a moderate problem in the United States, but the reality really is another. There are quite a few American cities that are considered high-risk as a result of the intense criminal activity going on in them and therefore are referred to as cities that should be avoided. Criminal activity serves as a generic term for a variety of issues from armed robberies to gang related violence and murders, so it is highly recommended that anyone seeking relocation in the United States considers all such factors before taking their pick. Here are the top five destinations in the US they should avoid if concerned about high crime rates, according to the FBI’s Crime Statistics database and the CQ Press’ City Crime Rankings.
1. Camden, New Jersey
Camden, New Jersey takes the lead in the top of the most dangerous cities of the United States on account of its violent crime rate exceeding the US average by 22% despite the population being below 80,000 inhabitants. Moreover, in 2013, the number of murders that took place in this city reached an alarming 67.
The high crime rate in Camden, New Jersey occurs in a context of striking poverty, a high rate of homelessness and increased drug activity, a context which has put it on the list of dangerous cities in the United States for quite some time now. As expected, a number of solutions have been tried over time, the most recent one consisting in the New Jersey city police being transferred to the county in an attempt to keep the criminal activity in the city under control. Thus, the number of police officers on the ground has been increased by 30% and security in the most dangerous neighborhoods has been reinforced to reassure politicians, the inhabitants of Camden and those considering relocating here as well.
2. Flint, Michigan
Flint, Michigan also makes its way on the list of the most dangerous cities in the United States, sharing quite a few of Camden’s features as far as criminal activity is concerned. The main one is its very high crime rate in relation to its total population. Also a small city, with a population of 100,000 inhabitants, it is associated with a violent crime rate that exceeds the US average by no less than 23% and the state average by almost 22%, which is quite an achievement in the negative sense considering its location within the same state as the long dreaded city of Detroit. According to the statistics, 1 in 36 residents of Flint is a victim of a violent crime whereas 1 in 17 finds themselves involved in a property crime.
Flint, Michigan has been pinned as a high-risk city ever since the release of Michael Moore’s documentary “Bowling for Columbine” back in 2002, which revealed various aspects related to the city’s criminal activity. Most often, one of the underlying causes of high crime rates is poverty. In this case, it is the main one. This city’s overall living standard dropped significantly as a consequence of the auto industry declining, over 40% of its people struggling to survive in extremely poor living conditions. Flint, Michigan is where General Motors started its tradition, providing as many as 80,000 jobs for the locals in the early 1980s. However, with those jobs no longer available, it has become a difficult place to live in, to say the least, and therefore a highly dangerous one too.
3. Detroit, Michigan
This is the point where the discussion on criminal activity in the United States of America reaches a whole new level. Why? Because Detroit, Michigan has been at the very top of the FBI’s Crime Statistics database as the most dangerous city in the US for five consecutive years. It should be noted at this point that this database monitors the US cities with a population higher than 200,000 people.
According to these records, an astonishing 386 murders took place in Detroit in 2013, a rate similar to that registered in 2000 and significantly higher than that of 2012. Unfortunately, it is also a rate similar to that of New York City, which has 12 times more inhabitants. Apparently, the level of concern has varied with the fluctuations in Detroit’s population and in a rather surprising manner, even with those in its financial situation. The fact that 2013’s violent crime rate decreased by 5% to a total of 56,000 despite the city facing its biggest financial problems in history came as quite a big surprise. However, that decrease led to “only” 1 in 47 becoming a victim of violent crimes, a rate still 18 times higher than anywhere else in the United States. At the other end, people moving out of Detroit for various reasons which include the city’s high level of risk has caused the murder rate to rise to a state leading 54.6 per 100,000, which is over 10 times higher than the US average.
Detroit’s situation is even more unfortunate as it has progressed from a well economically performing city to one sunk in poverty, unable to rise again after the decline of its auto industry. In addition to that, it is currently forced to manage with 20% less police force as a consequence of significant budget cuts being made and associated with a disturbing 911 response time of over one hour, which is hardly a reassuring situation.
4. Oakland, California
Unfortunately, today’s most dangerous US cities tend to have an entire history of increased criminal activity and therefore an entire history of desperate efforts being made to keep the situation under control. Oakland, California, the country’s second most dangerous city with a population over 200,000 inhabitants, makes no exception. According to various sources, the crime rate in 2013 was 30% higher than in the previous year, the 2012 situation indicating alarming rates of 32 murders, 68 rapes and 1,086 violent robberies per 100,000 residents, the latter being the most common of crimes, which also include burglary, arson, larceny or theft, among others. Overall, it indicated a rate of 1 in 50 that people become victims of violent crimes. Today, this rate has been set at 1 in 15, the highest in the entire state of California. The property crime rate alone, for instance, has become 1 in 57, which is 40% higher than the average at national level, while the number of murders committed in 2013 reached 127 and that of crimes overall reached 34,000, the national average being 16% lower.
One explanation for these distressing numbers lies in the fact that Oakland does not seem to be able to mobilize more than one third of the police force commonly mobilized in average Californian cities in the context of repeated budget cuts and insufficient funding. And with most of this force being assigned to the areas presenting the highest risks for crime, much of Oakland is left uncovered and therefore exposed to criminal activity. In fact, the statistics show that over 430 crimes take place per square mile while the national average is 39.
5. St. Louis, Missouri
The Gateway Arch and high crime rates. These are the two things people usually associate with the city of St. Louis, Missouri, which has a special status among the most dangerous cities in the US. This is due to the fact that its almost 320,000 inhabitants live in a much more compact area than usually the case in the United States, which increases the risks for crime significantly, according to some experts. Thus, it stands somewhere on the line between a small US city and a big one, depending on the angle its situation is analyzed from.
All these factors lead to a National Crime Index of 1, which signifies that only 1% of US cities are more dangerous than the city of St. Louis, Missouri. Whether the underlying cause of this whole situation lies in the city not expanding enough, in its drug trafficking network or elsewhere somehow appears to be less relevant at this point.
Most often, US cities end up having high crime rates as a result of facing economic problems, increased gang activity or class division based on racist and wealth related judgments. Indeed, such factors can also be encountered in large cities such as Los Angeles or New York City, for instance. However, what keeps them off the list of the most dangerous places in the United States is their greater ability to fight the criminal activity taking place within their area, thus keeping the crime rates lower also as a consequence of the calculations involving a larger total population.