Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S. You Should Avoid In 2015

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Detroit is the Most Dangerous City in America for the second year in a row, according to data released today by the FBI. Detroit maintains this ranking despite an overall violent crime decrease of 2.5 percent over the course of 2013, the latest year for which the FBI has released crime statistics. Oakland also maintained its No. 2 ranking for the second year in a row, followed by Memphis, which moved to No. 3 after its rank at No. 4 last year. Look at the list below to see the full Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in America.

(All information, wording and statistics below are works of, information has been re-posted for educational purposes)


Detroit once again tops the list of Most Dangerous Cities with a violent crime rate of 2,072 per 100,000; however, that number reflects a nearly 2.5 percent decrease from the previous year. In the wake of its bankruptcy, Detroit has worked to bring greater efficiency and effectiveness to its public services. James E. Craig was appointed Chief of Police in July 2013, and since then the department’s homicide clearance rate rose from 11 percent to 43 percent, and almost every major crime category experienced decreases. Craig set a goal of reducing overall crime by 10 percent in 2014, which will make Detroit a city to watch in the coming months.

Violent Crime Rate: 2,072/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 45/100,000 people

Population: 699,889 | Officer to Population Ratio: 1:297

Median Household Income: $26,955 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 38.1%

Rank last year: No. 1



Oakland, California maintains its spot as the No. 2 Most Dangerous City in the United States for the second year in a row; however, after reaching a 10-year high in violent crime in 2012, the city managed to decrease its crime rate last year. Despite an over 10 percent increase in violent crime during the first six months of 2013 relative to the previous year, the year-end statistics revealed an overall decrease in violent crime of approximately one percent. This reduction may have been spurred by the creation of new, smaller police districts. The Oakland Police Department expanded the number of police districts from two to five, each with its own captain responsible for the local crime rate. The new district plan took effect halfway through 2013, the results of which will be interesting to observe over time.

Violent Crime Rate: 1,977/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 22/100,000 people

Population: 403,887 | Officer to Population Ratio: 1:632

Median Household Income: $51,683 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 20.3%

Rank Last Year: No. 2



Memphis took over St. Louis’ position as the No. 3 Most Dangerous City in America, rising up one place from No. 4 last year. Although Memphis moved up on the list, the city still managed to decrease its violent crime rate by more than 5 percent. The city had 124 murders, 437 rapes, 3,133 robberies, and 7,200 aggravated assaults.

Violent Crime Rate: 1,656/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 19/100,000 people

Population: 657,691| Officer to Population Ratio: 1:284

Median Household Income: $36,817 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 26.2%

Rank last year: No. 4



St. Louis continued its downward trend in violent crime this year, moving down one spot to be the No. 4 Most Dangerous City in the United States. The city saw its fewest number of total crimes since 1966. Despite this trend, St. Louis still has the fourth highest violent crime rate among large cities in the United States. The city’s encouraging 20 percent drop in crime during the first six months of 2013 continued through the year’s end, as violent crime went down 10 percent for the entire year. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has attributed the trend in crime reduction to several of the city’s new policing changes, such as the implementation of hotspot policing, movement from state to local control of the police force, and the redistricting of its police districts.

Violent Crime Rate: 1,594/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 38/100,000 people

Population: 318,563 | Officer to Population Ratio: 1:248

Median Household Income: $34,384 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 27.0%

Rank Last Year: No. 3


Cleveland, Ohio is ranked the No. 5 Most Dangerous City in America this year after its previous ranking at No. 8. It is one of the few cities that experienced an increase in violent crime last year. Fueled largely by increases in the number of robberies and aggravated assaults, Cleveland’s violent crime rate increased by nearly seven percent. The number of murders did manage to decrease from 84 in 2012 to 55 in 2013; however, that trend may be reversing itself, as the city is poised for an increase.

Violent Crime Rate: 1,478/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 14/100,000 people

Population: 389,181 | Officer to Population Ratio: 1:264

Median Household Income: $26,556 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 34.2%

Rank last year: No. 8



Baltimore, Maryland is the No. 6 Most Dangerous City in the United States, moving down one spot from No. 7 last year. Despite its slight decrease in violent crime–which went down by less than 1 percent–Baltimore saw an increase in the number of murders. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told CBS Baltimore, “Our homicide number…is unacceptable. Period. No excuses.” Baltimore is second only to Detroit in its number of total murders, as the city experienced 233 homicides last year. Despite Baltimore’s increase in murders and consistent violent crime rate, Batts did note that citizen complaints against police officers decreased nearly 50 percent last year.

Violent Crime Rate: 1,401/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 37/100,000 people

Population: 622,671 | Officer to Population Ratio: 1:220

Median Household Income: $40,803 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 23.4%

Rank last year: No. 7



Milwaukee, Wisconsin jumped onto the list of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities for the first time last year after an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that the police department misreported more than 500 violent crimes between 2009 to 2012. The city moved up the list to its current position as the No. 7 Most Dangerous City with a violent crime rate of 1,364 violent crimes per 100,000 people. These statistics are the first comparable numbers after the FBI’s audit of the Milwaukee Police Department, as it now has two consecutive years of accurate crime data–both years ranking the city in the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities list. The numbers show that murders in Milwaukee are at a five-year high, with 104 in 2013.

Violent Crime Rate: 1,364/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 17 per 100,000 people

Population: 600,805 | Officer to Population Ratio: 1:323

Median Household Income: $35,823 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 28.3%

Rank last year: No. 10



Ranking No. 8 on Law Street’s list of Most Dangerous Cities is Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham continued its downward trend in violent crime in 2013 with an 11 percent reduction, moving the city down this list from its spot at No. 6 last year. During the first half of 2013 the city was poised to show a large drop in its number of murders; however, a two-week period in June saw 11 homicides, which prevented significant change by year’s end. Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper noted that lowering the number of murders is proving to be a challenge for the city.

Violent Crime Rate: 1,345/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 30/100,000 people

Population: 212,001 | Officer to Population Ratio: 1:254

Median Household Income: $31,467 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 28.9%

Rank last year: No. 6



Newark is a newcomer to the list this year. It is currently the No. 9 Most Dangerous City in America, moving into the Top 10 and displacing both Stockton, California and Atlanta, Georgia. Newark moved up 10 places this year after the city’s violent crime rate rose by nearly 10 percent, the largest increase among the cities on this list. A 23 percent increase in the number of robberies was the primary reason Newark rose up the rankings this year. The total number of murders also increased in Newark going from 96 in 2012 to 112 last year, an increase of over 16 percent.

Violent Crime Rate: 1,264/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 40/100,000 people

Population: 278,246 | Officer to Population Ratio: 1:276

Median Household Income: $34,387 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 28.0%

Rank last year: No. 19



Kansas City, Missouri–a newcomer to the Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities list–ranks No. 10 this year. The city displaced Atlanta, Georgia, which was ranked No. 10 last year. Despite the fact that Kansas City moved into the Top 10, its violent crime rate did in fact decrease by less than one percent from 2012 to 2013. The city of nearly a half-million people experienced 99 murders, 377 rapes, 1,662 robberies, and 3,726 aggravated assaults.

Violent Crime Rate: 1,260/100,000 people | Murder Rate: 21/100,000 people

Population: 465,514 | Officer to Population Ratio: 1:341

Median Household Income: $45,150 | Pop. Below Poverty Line: 18.8%

Rank last year: No. 12

Research and analysis by Law Street’s Crime in America Team: Kevin Rizzo, Chelsey Goff, and Anneliese Mahoney.


FBI: Violent crime, population, murder, and officer statistics, measured January – December 2013.

U.S. Census Bureau: Median household income, measured 2007-2011.

U.S. Census Bureau: Poverty, measured 2008-2012.

Featured image courtesy of [Dan DeLuca via Flickr]