The United States is ripe with amazing cities to live in and travel to (in fact, here are some of our favorite cities to visit in the US). Despite ongoing concerns over firearm violence in America, the country as a whole is safer than you might realize. In fact, with a violent crime rate of 369 incidents committed for every 100,000 people in 2018, the U.S. is statistically the safest it’s been in the last three decades. Unfortunately, safety can look quite different at a local level than it does nationally. When it comes to individual cities, there are definitely some that are considered more dangerous than others.
Using the FBI’s most recent crime data from its 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting Program, we’ve ranked the cities with the highest violent crime rates in the country. This population-adjusted statistic measures all violent crimes and is a useful tool for determining how dangerous a city is.
We should note that just because a city is declared dangerous, doesn’t mean it should be avoided altogether. You’ll find there are safe neighborhoods in even the worst cities. Still, we’d recommend exercising caution if you’re thinking of traveling to one of the following 25 cities, which rank as the most dangerous cities in the U.S. in 2020.
25. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,048
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,058
Surrounded by mountains and nestled along the Tennessee River, Chattanooga more than lives up to its official nickname of “Scenic City”. However, those looking to explore the great outdoors in Chattanooga should take heed of the city’s high violent crime rate. While homicides were low, the city experienced 783 cases of aggravated assault per 100,000 people in 2018 — more than triple the national average.
The good news is that local authorities are taking steps to address the problem. More than 30 surveillance cameras have been installed across the city over the last three years to help increase public safety in Chattanooga’s most dangerous areas.
24. Beaumont, Texas
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,059
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,783
With a violent crime rate of 1,059 per 100,000 residents, Beaumont just narrowly tops Houston as the most dangerous major city in the Lone Star state. Much like Chattanooga, Beaumont has an aggravated assault problem, with a whopping 798 reported in 2018. In 2019, Beaumont has also experienced more homicides than the previous year and city officials are desperate to change the narrative.
“Per ca-pita, we are the murder capital of the state of Texas, and we want to change that, we’re not satisfied with that,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham.
The Beaumont Police Department has implemented a high tech tool to help curb firearm violence. Known as the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, the tool allows authorities to better track firearms used in different crimes.
23. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,065
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,430
While it may not be under attack by masked criminals like in HBO’s hit 2019 series Watchmen, the real-life city of Tulsa is still a dangerous place. In fact, based on its violent crime rate, Tulsa is the most dangerous major city in the state of Oklahoma.
While there’s a lot to love about Tulsa, including a thriving craft beer scene and a world-renowned art museum, its violent crime rate is not one of them. Firearm violence, in particular, has been a major problem for Tulsa, which has prompted police to more than double the number of firearms confiscated since 2011.
22. Hartford, Connecticut
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,066
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,602
The capital city of Connecticut, Hartford is also known as the “Insurance Capital of the World” thanks to the many insurance companies headquartered there. It also holds the distinction of being one of the oldest cities in the United States and a great destination for history buffs. In spite of these distinctions, Hartford is a city currently suffering through a high crime rate and economic woes.
Hartford’s violent crime rate of 1,066 incidents per 100,000 people can be at least partly attributed to the city’s high unemployment and poverty. The unemployment rate (7.0%) and poverty rate (30.5%) are both well above the national average of 3.9% and 14.9%, respectively.
21. Lansing, Michigan
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,108
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,030
The capital of Michigan (that’s right, it’s not Detroit!), Lansing is home to Michigan State University — one of the largest universities in the country — and is an important cultural, commercial, and industrial hub. Unfortunately, Lansing is held back by higher than average violent crime and poverty. The city’s main issue is aggravated assault, which accounted for nearly 74% of the 1,301 violent crimes reported in 2018.
The good news is the Department of Justice awarded Michigan more than $122 million earlier this year to help curb violent crime, so the situation stands to get better in Lansing going forward.
20. Nashville, Tennessee
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,113
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,011
With its unbeatable live music scene and an amazing selection of bars and restaurants, it’s no surprise Nashville is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US. But what you won’t find on your typical list of the best things to do in Nashville are the city’s crime statistics, which are actually quite alarming.
Believe it or not, Nashville’s violent crime rate is more than triple the national average, with aggravated assaults leading the way. In fact, the city’s Metro Police reported that aggravated assaults were up 23% in 2019, which suggests things may be getting worse in Nashville.
However, this doesn’t mean you should cancel your trip to “Music City, USA”. As long as you take precautions and avoid Nashville’s most dangerous spots, there’s no reason you can’t safely take in the Grand Ole Opry.
19. New Orleans, Louisiana
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,163
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,557
The home of Creole cuisine and Mardi Gras, New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the United States. But while the city has benefited greatly from redevelopment efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s mass devastation, crime continues to be a major issue in “The Big Easy”.
Homicides are especially high in New Orleans, with the city’s homicide rate (37 per 100,000 people) ranking fifth-highest among mid – to large-size American cities. Fortunately, the 141 homicides New Orleans saw in 2018 were actually the lowest total since 1971 and that downward trend has continued in 2019, so things might be looking up for Louisiana’s most populous city.
18. Wichita, Kansas
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,179
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,618
Wichita is the largest city in the state of Kansas and a major aeronautical hub, earning it the nickname of “The Air Capital of the World”. While Wichita’s unemployment and poverty rates fall within national averages, the city has experienced a “precipitous increase” in violent crime over the last three years.
The situation has gotten bad enough that earlier this year, Wichita sought federal help. The city is now a participant in the U.S. Department of Justice National Safety Partnership, a national program that aims to drive down crime. The three-year program provides training and technical assistance to the Wichita Police Department at no extra cost.
17. Indianapolis, Indiana
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,272
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,129
Home to the Pacers and Colts, Indianapolis is also where you’ll find the world’s largest children’s museum and one of the largest privately funded zoos in the country. The city is an economic hub for the state of Indiana and boasts an unemployment rate lower than the national average. Unfortunately, Indianapolis’s violent crime rate makes it the most dangerous city in the state, with hate crimes and firearm violence, in particular, standing out as pain points.
The good news is that Indianapolis has made great strides in tackling its firearm problems in recent years. There are now several intervention programs in place, including firearm buyback events designed to get firearms off the streets.
16. Oakland, California
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,273
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,390
For years, Oakland has struggled to break free of its reputation as a dangerous city. Unfortunately, statistics only help support the reality of Oakland being one of the most dangerous places to live in California. While the city’s violent crime rate did go down a bit in 2018, it still sits nearly four times the national average. The robbery rate in Oakland (610 incidents per 100,000 people) is especially concerning, trailing only Baltimore as the highest in the country.
There is reason to be optimistic about crime prevention in Oakland though. The city’s police department now uses a high tech program developed in nearby Silicon Valley called Law Enforcement Analysis Portal to help collect and analyze large amounts of crime data.
15. Anchorage, Alaska
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,309
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,927
Home to more than 41% of Alaska’s entire population, Anchorage is an important northern economic center that boasts spectacular views (six different mountain ranges make up its skyline). Sadly, along with being the most northern capital city in the U.S., Anchorage holds the unfortunate distinction of being the country’s sexual assault capital.
With 210 reported sexual assaults for every 100,000 people, Anchorage has the highest rate of any US city with a population of at least 100,000. The reasons for this are complex but it’s not just Anchorage suffering from violent crimes. Alaska as a whole is considered the most dangerous state for women, with 59% of women who live there having experienced violence.
14. Springfield, Missouri
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,316
Property Crimes Per 100k: 7,019
Home to three universities — Missouri State University, Drury University, and Evangel University — Springfield has the look and feel of your average midwestern college town. However, this unassuming city has a surprisingly high violent crime rate, nearly three times that of Missouri as a whole.
In an effort to curb violent crime, Springfield Police recently formed the “Career Criminal Task Force” alongside the FBI to target repeat offenders. “We’re going to go after the bad guys and we’re going to put them in jail. People deserve to feel safe,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt told KSPR.
13. San Bernardino, California
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,333
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,135
Home to the very first McDonald’s restaurant (now a McDonald’s Museum), San Bernardino is an inland California city that lies along the iconic Route 66. Unfortunately, the city has become better known for its struggling economy over the last 25 years. The closing of Norton Air Force Base in 1994 cost San Bernardino 10,000 jobs and the city has never truly recovered.
San Bernardino was declared America’s second poorest city behind Detroit in 2011 and while things have somewhat improved, more than 30% of residents still live below the poverty line. Areas with limited economic opportunities tend to have high crime, so it’s little surprise the violent crime rate in San Bernardino is nearly four times the national average.
12. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,364
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,179
Although it never had to deal with a drug kingpin named Heisenberg, the real-life Albuquerque, New Mexico has crime problems of its own. Incidents of sexual assault and homicide are more than double the national average, while aggravated assaults are three times as common.
The fact that Albuquerque accounts for half of all crime in New Mexico while only being home to a quarter of the state’s population prompted the city’s mayor Tim Keller to ask for state help. We’ll have to wait until the FBI releases its 2020 data to see if the situation in Albuquerque improves.
11. Rockford, Illinois
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,386
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,671
Although Chicago is probably the first city that springs to mind when you think of crime in Illinois, the Windy City is actually not the most dangerous place in the state. With a violent crime rate of 1,386 incidents per 100,000 people, Rockford stands as the most dangerous city in Illinois.
Despite economic revitalization efforts creating new jobs in the automotive, aerospace, and healthcare industries over the last few decades, Rockford continues to struggle economically. Both its unemployment rate (6.8%) and poverty rate (22.2%) sit well above national averages.
10. Stockton, California
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,399
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,768
With a violent crime rate of 1,399 incidents per 100,000 people, Stockton ranks as California’s most dangerous city and the 10th most dangerous in the country. Home to the oldest university in California — The University of the Pacific — Stockton has a rich history, being one of the hubs of the 19th century Gold Rush.
Unfortunately, the 2008 financial crisis hit Stockton especially hard and in 2012, it became the largest city in US history to file for bankruptcy protection (Detroit would surpass it the following year). Despite exiting bankruptcy in 2013, job opportunities in Stockton remain slim, with 6.9% of the city’s labor force unemployed in 2018.
9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,413
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,971
Milwaukee is often associated with its proud brewing tradition and cold Midwestern winters; not violent crime. Alas, with 1,413 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, the home of the Bucks is not only the most dangerous city in Wisconsin but the United States as a whole. Researchers have pointed to segregation and the opioid crisis being major factors behind Milwaukee’s violence, though a poverty rate nearly doubles the national average also hasn’t helped matters.
Much like the young Parkland survivors, Milwaukee’s youth have become heavily involved in violence prevention. 414LIFE and other organizations are currently working to establish a youth violence interruption coalition in the city’s school system.
8. Little Rock, Arkansas
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,446
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,547
Don’t let the name fool you. Despite having a name one would associate with a quaint American town, Little Rock has a shockingly high crime rate. In 2018, the city saw 1,446 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, nearly quadruple the national rate.
Property crime is also a major problem in Little Rock, with non-violent crimes like burglary and larceny leading the way. The city’s property crime rate ranks third among U.S. cities with populations of 100,000 or more. It’s a shame too, as Little Rock does have some decent attractions and boasts great walks down by the Arkansas River.
7. Cleveland, Ohio
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,449
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,411
Crime is a serious issue in all major Ohio cities with the exception of Columbus, which does not rank on the FBI’s list of the 50 most dangerous U.S. cities. Out of all of them, Cleveland has the unfortunate distinction of being the most dangerous city in Ohio.
Despite thriving healthcare and tech sectors, Cleveland has alarming poverty and unemployment figures. 6.5% of the labor force is out of work, while a staggering 35.2% of the population live below the poverty line. These factors have helped drive a violent crime rate four times the national average.
6. Kansas City, Missouri
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,590
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,306
The biggest question most people have about Kansas City is, “Why isn’t it in Kansas?” But the question we really should be asking is, “Why is the city so violent?” After all, poverty isn’t a major problem in Kansas City and its unemployment rate is actually lower than the national average.
And yet, violent crime is out of control in Kansas City, with the city on course to see a record number of homicides in 2019. A 4-year wave of firearm violence has left Kansas City grasping for solutions. However, firearm violence is a problem across Missouri as a whole, meaning KC will likely have to wait for a solution to be found at the state level.
5. St. Louis, Missouri
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,800
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,911
Believe it or not, Kansas City is not the most dangerous place in Missouri. That title goes to St. Louis, a major economic hub and home to ten Fortune 500 companies. Unfortunately, low unemployment has done little to curb violence in St. Louis, which saw 187 homicides in 2018.
When adjusted for population, St. Louis’s homicide rate of 61 incidents per 100,000 people make it the homicide capital of the U.S. In recent years, fed up residents have been putting pressure on Missouri lawmakers to change the state’s firearm laws. But with no solutions in sight, it may be some time before St. Louis residents see any relief.
4. Baltimore, Maryland
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,833
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,495
Baltimore, Maryland is a city obsessed with preservation. Nearly one-third of the city’s buildings are designated as historic, more than any other U.S. city. Unfortunately, recent history is something the city’s residents likely want to forget, as Baltimore continues to rank as one of the country’s most dangerous places.
With 309 recorded homicides in 2018, Baltimore is easily one of the most violent and dangerous major cities in America. The city’s homicide rate of 51 per 100,000 only trails St. Louis while the robbery rate of 837 incidents per 100,000 people is the highest in the country. According to the New York Times, violent crime has spiked since the infamous passing of Freddie Gray in 2015 and it’s showing no signs of getting better anytime soon.
3. Birmingham, Alabama
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,911
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,313
Once known as “The Magic City”, today Birmingham is the most populous city in Alabama and one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Yet for all its economic successes, Birmingham has an alarming crime rate that sits 112% higher than the national average. Aggravated assaults are the primary concern, as they accounted for nearly 70% of all violent crimes reported in 2018.
The homicide rate is also shockingly high. Although the 88 homicides the city saw in 2018 is much lower than other cities on this list, the homicide rate is actually third highest in the country once the population is taken into account.
2. Memphis, Tennessee
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,943
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,405
With a violent crime rate of 1,943 incidents per 100,000 people, Memphis, Tennessee ranks as the most dangerous city in America’s south. One could argue that violence is just as much a part of Memphis’s identity as blues music and barbeque. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 and since the Civil Rights Movement, the city has become ground zero for some of the worst firearm violence in the country.
In fact, the majority of the city’s 186 homicides last year were firearm-related. Recently, U.S. Attorney General William Barr unveiled a new plan to reduce firearm violence in Memphis, Project Guardian, so hopefully, Memphis will start to see some relief in the coming years.
1. Detroit, Michigan
Violent Crimes Per 100k: 2,007
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,304
The Motor City just can’t seem to catch a break. While most major U.S. cities continue to grow, Detroit has seen one of the steepest population declines over the last half-century. At its peak, the city was home to 1.8 million people in the 1950s. But the decline in manufacturing jobs has driven the population down to less than 700,000 today. The city’s massive unemployment and poverty rates (9% and 37.9%, respectively) amount to a city with the highest violent crime rate in the country.
Today, large swaths of Detroit lie abandoned; a living reminder of the city’s decline. Unfortunately, until Detroit’s public administration gets its act together and starts attracting business and economic growth, its status as America’s most dangerous city will only continue.