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Legal Review: US Cities With the Highest Crime Rates

Over the past few years, crime rates in the US have dramatically increased. Violent crimes are a constant problem in cities like Chicago, New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. These areas have made it to the headlines several times due to concerns from locals and tourists who frequent them. Other towns like Birmingham, New Orleans, and Atlanta hardly make it to the news despite having even higher murder rates per capita.

A list compiled from police data in June revealed the top 31 cities with the highest murder rates per capita (100,000 residents). New Orleans, Baltimore, and Birmingham were at the top with 36.8, 29.1, and 28.0 rates, respectively. Other cities with significantly high rates were St Louis at 27.8, Milwaukee at 19.0, Cleveland at 16.9, and Rochester at 16.6.

Even though these numbers are subject to change, they provide meaningful insights into crime trends throughout the country. New Orleans, for example, ranks 9th in cities with the highest homicide rates worldwide. The city has been ranked with the worst murder rate increase in the country. 

Violent Crimes Surge in 2022

Homicide rates have been rising since 2020. Murder rates in New Orleans have increased by 83 percent since 2019. Such trends have raised safety concerns in these cities. 

Darrel Basco, the president of the Louisiana FOP, stated that Louisiana residents know the city as one of the most dangerous in the country. He urged city council members and other officials to work toward reversing this trend before it severely impacts tourism revenue. Similarly, murder rates in Birmingham have been climbing, with more than 74 murders recorded as of July. Everett Johson, President of the Alabama FOP, explains that Birmingham and other similar cities have lenient bonds regardless of the crime. 

This lenient criminal justice system is responsible for the observed crime trends. He also explains that other contributing factors like drugs and lack of regard for human life have also contributed to this rise. 

Drugs have long been a contributing factor. In 2020, St. Louis ranked top for murder rates per capita in the US. Though high on the list, the city has seen its homicide rates decrease by 15 percent in 2022. Other crimes like robberies, larcenies, and aggravated assaults have also reduced significantly.

Over the years, larcenies have played a major role in national crime rates, especially those involving vehicles. Lt Schellman of the St. Louis Police Department noted that the department, with over 1,200 dedicated officers, is constantly working toward keeping the community safe. 

Sam Page, St. Louis County Executive, attributed the reduction in crime rates to adequate police funding. He explained that the county spends 48 percent of its general budget on policing. These funds have enabled the department to improve its services generally. 

Memphis has also been noted for significant safety improvements. After ranking fourth in 2020, it has seen its crime rates decline by 20 percent. The majority of the crime in this city happened in poor neighborhoods. The same situation was observed in other towns across the country. 

“More efforts should be centered toward tackling the contributing factors to crime such as opioid use and poverty,” says criminal defense attorney Ryan Brown.

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