America's top 5 most dangerous cities
The greater likelihood of suffering a violent crime sets these U.S. cities apart from the rest of the country. Did your town make the list?
Las Vegas ranks No. 4 on Forbes' list of most dangerous American cities.
In March 2008, Kwame Kilpatrick was charged with eight felonies, including perjury and obstruction of justice. In August, he violated his bail agreement and was thrown in jail. His actions were deplorable for anybody, but Kilpatrick was no Average Joe — he was the mayor of Detroit.
Unfortunately for the Motor City, Kilpatrick, 38, is just one ripple in the area's sea of crime. Detroit is the worst offender on our list of America's most dangerous cities, thanks to a staggering rate of 1,220 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people.
"Detroit has, historically, been one of the more violent cities in the U.S.," says Megan Wolfram, an analyst at iJet Intelligent Risk Systems, a Maryland-based risk-assessment firm. "They have a number of local crime syndicates there — a number of small gangs who tend to compete over territory."
Detroit was followed closely on the list by the greater Memphis, Tenn., and Miami metropolitan areas. Those three were the only large cities in America with more than 950 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people.
Behind the numbers
To determine our list, we used violent crime statistics from the FBI's latest uniform crime report, issued in 2008. The violent crime category is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. We evaluated U.S. metropolitan statistical areas — geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget for use by federal agencies in collecting, tabulating and publishing federal statistics — with more than 500,000 residents.
Though nationwide crime was down 3.5% year over year in the first six months of 2008, the cities atop our list illustrate a disturbing trend: All 10 of the most dangerous cities were among those identified by the Department of Justice as transit points for Mexican drug cartels.
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Run by crime lords like Joaquin Guzman Lorea, these gangs — and their violent turf wars — are spreading into the American Southwest and beyond. Places like Stockton, Calif., nearly 500 miles from Tijuana, have seen an uptick in related violent crime.
"Stockton is a major transit point along the I-5 corridor on the way to Seattle and Vancouver," says Wolfram. "A lot of it is similar to crime happening in the Southwest. For the most part, it's drug gang on drug gang."
The situation in Mexico has escalated in recent years, but Detroit has been dealing with the same problems for decades. Detroit was an industrial boomtown during the first half of the 20th century, its population swelling from 285,000 in 1900 to 990,000 in 1920 and reaching a peak of 1.8 million in 1950.
Only half that number still live within city limits. Starting in the 1960s, Detroit began a precipitous decline. Most scholars blame rapid suburbanization, outsourcing of manufacturing jobs and federal programs they say exacerbated the situation by creating a culture of joblessness and dependency. Residents fled to the suburbs and to other regions of the country entirely, leaving behind a landscape littered with abandoned buildings.
"Factories that once provided tens of thousands of jobs now stand as hollow shells, windows broken, mute testimony to a lost industrial past," wrote Thomas J. Sugrue in his book “The Origins of the Urban Crisis.” "Whole sections of the city are eerily apocalyptic."
Detroit isn't the only city on the list that's suffering from abandonment issues.
In Las Vegas, for example, the housing boom created loads of excess inventory. When the market tanked, homeowners suddenly found themselves with properties worth far less than the mortgages they'd taken out. In the worst cases, banks foreclosed, leaving people without homes — and with more debt than they'd had to begin with. As a result, Sin City is even emptier than Detroit.
"Detroit has trouble showing improvement in its crime rate because dedicated, desperately needed and appropriate resources are not invested in public safety. Painfully, it is not a priority," says Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney Kym L. Worthy. "I wish that those with the resources would view domestic terrorism like they do terrorism across the water. It used to be that we were keeping our head above water and treading quickly. Now we are drowning, and no one seems to really care. All they tell me to do is cut some more."
Few signs of improvement
Making matters more difficult, as municipal budgets shrink during this recession, crime-fighting funds are often among the first casualties.
"There's less public spending during downturns," says Wolfram. "Police departments and incarcerations systems are tough to fund."
The news has been bad for decades, but there may yet be hope for Detroit. The city just elected a new mayor, former Detroit Pistons player Dave Bing, who has created a lot of optimistic buzz.
The top 5 most dangerous cities
4. Las Vegas
Click here for the full list of America’s most dangerous cities.
This article was written by Zack O'Malley Greenburg for Forbes.com.
I suggest crime as a motivator to provide more jobs for law enforcement. If its difficult to fund, send a petition to the government to help pay for police so that they don't end up sending our army to clean up the mess.
In the "Apocalyptic" abandoned sections of cities, <a href="http://www.sugarcreekestates.com">new construction</a> is required.
American citizens live in fear every day because of the massive crime rate, the foreign drug cartel, and the impoverished conditions in which they live. The United States are being taken culturally by crime and depravity as a result, in part, of illegal immigration.
We have established laws in this country for the purpose of the people, citizens or not, we need adequate law enforcement to ensure our promised freedoms.
What this reflects is the steady and inexorable disintegration of the nation...with no means of arresting its problems, because Americans like to buy a bag of popcorn, and watch it all happen. Past administrations have feathered their own nests, while they have , systematically, allowed foreign economic powers to buy-off whole chunks of American industry, and technology. The so-called "legal system" has no "teeth", and repeat offenders look upon incarceration as a welcome break, from the streets, and a means of catching-up on the social news of old friends, and cohorts! Affirmative action has given the nation, not the BEST, or the BRIGHTEST, in the professions, and rank-and-file, but a boat-load of ofttimes surly, resentful, unreliable, entitled malcontents, who have the added wedge of civil-rights lawsuits and protections to ensure their positions. The international borders are as good as unguarded, with drug-gangs able to penetrate and conduct business in the United States, with the ease that I have of shopping at WalMart, when I so choose! Promiscuity, and a shameless lack of regard for the upbringing of unwanted children, is rife...with the reality of almost NO FATHERS, in the lives of these children...and, the dumb-a** "mothers" of these children appearing on the Maury Povich show, to find-out who the fathers of their babies are! (If these ho's don't know who the fathers of their babies are...what DO they know???) The elections of officials, in this country, are doubtless "rigged", and far from what we might call "The People's Will". American kids can drop-out of school, if they wish..."doing time", or "getting knocked-up"...with no standards set for them to meet, and no sober, adult guidance for them to follow. Instead, they opt for street gangs, and all that they entail. There is no RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION, at what is happening! And, without the demands of the People that these things be addressed, and arrested...you can bet that articles like this one will be back, and will have more, and more cities, listed.
In other words, America is as good as DEAD, but as long as "American Idol" is on TV, Americans are fat, and happy...
I lived in las vegas from May 1982, until Oct 2004. The city wasn't bad until the big casinos came in... people were drawn from all over the USA to work there.. Then the families settled in, and their small children grew into teenage brats...and then started causing other problems,, like house break-in, and stolen cars.. I experienced a house invasion living in a middle class neighborhood, and living in a $270,000 home. No one is
free of danger regardless what city they reside... Las vegas puts the elements out there, and its open season there.. Probably why it was #4 on the list.
Dennis is I, not literate much, but always sincere! This country truly needs help. Far too much violence being displayed on tv, movies, music and in games (that even I enjoy). Well I'm an old G, and I'm still enjoying playing Half-Life and having a grand time shooting aliens. Although, excluding the 1st two sentences of this comment, much of what I've just typed has nothing to do with the worst cities. I feel the whole world is in peril. Catastrophe everywhere and to make it worst, desperate people are robbing and murdering each other at a whim. I shake sometimes (while trying to look tuff enough to be left alone) just to walk to the store. I live in Hartford, CT; my wife asked me do we live in the "Ghetto" I told her "when someone is getting killed every other week, Yes we do", but it wasn't a Ghetto when I was growing up. Guns, Drugs and Desperation and behind the scenes - Politics, Technology and hand in hand Corruption is daily taking away a way of life that use to be. Replacing the moments of life with a quick death at a glance, over no more than a gesture - "he's looking at me funny". Back to my age and time, when I grew up playing marbles was a big deal, hoola hoops was fun, especially watching the girls do it. Hop Scotch was also fun then. People always said hello or hi. As a teenager I could still walk anywhere in the city without fear. There was gangs about, but I was not a member of any and was left alone, considered a nobody to challenge. Nowadays, can't even walk to the store without fear of merely being target practice for laughs "drive by punks". No respect for life whatsoever these days. Mostly everyone is angry and aching to hurt someone just for whatever. I still believe people are born and grow up with goodness and love in them, but they get brainwashed along the way and turn inside out to ****ty as people. Does anyone have a remedy that can fix that? Please let me know, because I've never bought stock before, but I'd be the 1st to buy in that solution. Thanks for taking the time to read my rant. Dennisallday.
It's too many people and no jobs. Wake up and realise the jobs are NEVER COMING BACK and no politician cares or is able to change that!! We are a dime a dozen to them!!
Why do people keep having kids and then crying about education and what their future will look like? Wake up!!
Detroit has been a crime ridden city long before today. As a matter of fact, Detroit was an entry point for bootleggers to bring whiskey in from Canada during prohibition. Anybody remember the "Purple Gang"? (Do an internet search!)
Unfortunately Detroit has only gotten worse over the years. The city government is and has been corrupt for year. Regardless of who is mayor or sits on the city counsel. Every last one of them are politically motivated and could care less about the city they are suppose to serve.
I live just north of Detroit and I see things in Detroit on the news that befuddle me! Detroit has the potential to be such a great city! It's situated on the Detroit River which is part of the Great Lakes in Michigan. Simply a beautiful location. The problem appears to be what really makes a city great.... the people. The people of Detroit allowed their city to fall into the hands of criminals and gangs. As most people know, we are all products of our environment. The environment in Detroit and amongst most people that live there is one of laziness, greed, and those looking to steal, rob, and extort money for a living rather than work an honest job and earn an honest living. I think the word is INTEGRITY. There are few to no people in Detroit with true integrity. As a matter of fact, I don't see much integrity in the people in the US anymore. It's all about making a huge fortune as an investment banker and "legally" stealing everything you can from your neighbors. Personally, I've lost the belief in "the American Dream" and faith in the people of America to simply do the right thing. People have become selfish, rude, and simply hateful toward one another. I know it's not the values I was taught as a young man some 50+ years ago.
And last but not least, nobody can say it here because they want to be "politically correct". But I'll be subtle and just say Detroit's problems all boil down to a certain ethnic group that is a majority in the city. Historically this ethnic group is lazy, typically uneducated, have criminal records, and are still looking for a government check for what happen to their ancestors 150 years ago!
I've given up on Detroit... and frankly... I'm more than disappointed in the views of most people in America. Everybody has been taught "instant gradification" in there daily lives with cell phones, iPods, laptops, big screen TV's in HD. They have to be first in line at the bank. First at the red light. Gotta be first at everything! Otherwise they will be viewed as a loser for being second. Guess what people of Detroit? You made first place in something! Whoooo Yeaahhh! The worst city in America! ...Congrats!
Enough meaningless babble from me... Goodbye Detroit and goodnight America.