City and State Crime Rates-Most Dangerous Cities

Crime Scene Tape And Hand Cuffs Over American Flag


The list below provides an overview of the most dangerous cities and metropolitan areas.

It offers original data from recent years based on numbers from the US Department of Justice and access to commercially available lists. The methodologies of the commercially available lists are often criticized, which is why we offer federal data.


Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed by all national news sources multiple times. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services for the National Crime Prevention Council.  Post-Master’s Certificate of Advanced Study, Johns Hopkins University.

Contact us at Media on deadline, use

Be sure to see an overview of crime in America at

See top 10 factors driving violent crime at

My book: “Amazon Hot New Release”- “A Must Have Book,” Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization available at Amazon


Crime Rankings for Cities and States

There are two kinds of readers that come to this site. Some are interested in complexity and options regarding crime in cities, states and countries. They want to see all sources and come to their own conclusions.

Others want the most direct sources ranking cities as to dangerousness/safety.  They come to the site expecting one list that solves all their questions about dangerousness. That’s not going to happen; there is “no” official-definitive list, although lists are offered below.

A wide variety of government agencies, universities, and commercial sites create comparisons and all are going to differ depending on what’s measured. We get e-mails asking why Cleveland (or the city of your choice) is on one list of top ten cities and not on others.

Again, we point out that it all depends on what’s measured as to the results you get. Some cities are in the top ten in one list and are ranked much lower in another.

Please note that it’s nearly impossible to compare crime in cities, counties, states or metro areas with any real sense of accuracy (explained at the bottom of this article) so explore all sources with caution.

Note that some studies from commercial sources are criticized by criminologists for what they choose to measure. We recommend that you look at everything available, acknowledge what was measured and come to your own conclusions.

For those who want the most direct answer as to cities and crime, see the following links (please note the year)

The following are commercial publications and news operations. Note that some criminologists have issues with the interpretation of data:


Wikipedia offers Carries pages of general interest data for all cities and metropolitan areas–it’s searchable by zip code–for crime-related data; see ” Top 101 City Lists” on the front page.

US Department of Justice Data

The Cities With the Largest Total Increase in Homicides-Study of 56 Cities

Please note that the US Department of Justice funded data below do not measure all cities in the US; only 56 cities were chosen for the study. See the link at the bottom for access to the study.

Of the cities studied, those with the highest total increase for 2015 include:





Washington, D.C.-57%



Kansas City-29%

St Louis-29%



The Cities With the Largest Percentage Increase in Homicides-Study of 56 Cities

Please note that the US Department of Justice funded data below do not measure all cities in the US; only 56 cities were chosen for the study. See the link at the bottom of the two articles for access to the study.

Of the cities studied, those with the highest percentage increase for 2015 include:





Washington, D.C.-54%

Kansas City-37%


St Louis-18%




Data On Rates of Violence for Metro Areas and Counties

There is new data released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice that provides data (not rankings) on violent crime rates for counties and metro areas. Why is this important? Previously, rankings principally depended on crimes reported to law enforcement while noting the the majority of crimes are not reported. The data below depend on crime surveys to discover the totality of criminal activity. Because surveys record much higher numbers, they tend to be more accurate. Rankings are ours; the US DOJ does not rank geographic locations. Use the same caution expressed above and in the last section of this article.

Top Ten Violent Crime Metro Areas in the United States

Based on Department of Justice Victimization Data

Violent Crime Rates-2010-2012. Published in December, 2015

  1. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA—42.8
  2. Denver-Aurora-Bloomfield County, CO—40.2
  3. Pittsburg, PA—37.5
  4. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA—36.2
  5. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR—34.9
  6. Kansas City, MO/KS—33.9
  7. St. Louis, MO/IL—33.5
  8. Baltimore-Towson, MD—30.8
  9. Oklahoma City, OK—30.7
  10. Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI/MA—30.2

Top Ten Violent Crime Counties in the United States

Based on Department of Justice Victimization Data

Violent Crime Rates-2010-2012. Published in December, 2015

  1. Sacramento County, CA—44.1
  2. Allegany County, PA—42.4
  3. Philadelphia County, PA—41.4
  4. Honolulu County, HI—39.4
  5. Pima County, AZ—36.1
  6. Dallas County, TX–35.9
  7. Riverside County, CA—34.4
  8. Alameda County, CA—33.5
  9. Marion County, IN—30.6
  10. Salt Lake County, UT—29.7 and Milwaukee County, WI—29.7


Buying or Renting a House

Many come to this site for assistance in choosing a safe place to live. For an article addressing buying or renting, see  We caution readers to personally investigate the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods as an important first step.

Fear of Crime

Americans’ level of concern about crime and violence is at its highest point in 15 years, says a new Gallup survey. Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults say they personally worry “a great deal” about crime and violence, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2014. Gallup said the figure is the highest the firm has measured since March 2001.


For data on fear of crime by jurisdiction, see

There are Additional Resources Comparing Metropolitan Areas

There are Resources Comparing States Violent crime rates by state.  A service from the FBI allowing comparisons of states and national data for the last 50 years. It does not include data on cities.

There are Resources Comparing Cities Throughout the World (Includes US Cities)

There are Resources Comparing Countries

There are Resources Comparing Individual Communities Within Cities (most dangerous communities)

There are Resources with State-to-State Comparisons of the Most Stolen Cars

There are Resources Comparing States and Teenager Criminal or Dangerous Behavior

There are Resources Comparing Spending on Law Enforcement and Effectiveness that also Provide Crime Data for Cities in the US:

See article from WalletHub at

Additional Sources for Crime Data:

Start with the FBI .

More Sources

Background–the Difficulty of Comparing Jurisdictions–Reported and Unreported Crime and Crime Rates:

Crime statistics are confusing and frequently misunderstood. There are criminologists who spend their professional lives investigating the complexity of crime data.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) collects crimes reported to law enforcement agencies through state collection agencies and releases statistics for the nation, states, metropolitan areas and cities twice a year.

The National Crime Survey from the National Institute of Justice releases crime survey data for the country based on reported and unreported crime and did not offer crime statistics for states, metro areas or cities “until” the introduction of the report comparing counties and metro areas (above). See for differences as to FBI and National Crime Survey data.

The FBI frowns on using data reported to law enforcement agencies to make comparisons of one city to another, and for good reasons.

Most crime is not reported to the police (thus the need for the National Crime Survey to get a picture of total crime) so there is a lot of room for error. Law enforcement agencies can affect the amount of crime reported through aggressive interactions with citizens.

The FBI and state crime data collection agencies try to enforce common definitions on what constitutes a crime, but individual officers can (and do) downgrade crimes where definitions are vague. For example, an overaggressive person (or people) asking for money could be guilty of panhandling or robbery; it depends on how you interpret the aggressiveness of the person “asking” for money.

Some cities have been known to downgrade crimes. The past is filled with documented examples. Some cities do poor jobs of collecting and analyzing crime data.

Most crime rankings are based on crimes per 1,000 residents which immediately creates an unfair playing field if you get thousands of tourists or workers per day. Those thousands of “outsiders” will inevitably commit crimes or inadvertently create opportunities for crime that would not exist in cities or states not getting a lot of tourists or daily workers.

So the bottom line is that crimes and crimes reported can and will differ for reasons having little or nothing to do with the quality of policing or crime control strategies.

Having said this, the warning from the FBI is routinely ignored by every newspaper in the country; all report on how their city or county or state ranks regarding crime.

So if you choose to look at rankings, please do so with an open mind. A city or state may have crime problems, but hundreds of thousands or millions of its citizens, tourists and workers move throughout their city in relative safety on a daily basis.


Contact us at

Media on deadline, use

%d bloggers like this: