At a community meeting in a Lutheran church earlier this year, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing got an earful about his city’s distressingly high crime rate. The heckling started with members of his own police force.
“What are you doing to stop the blight, the drugs, the murder, the killing?” demanded Marcus Cumming, a police officer, at the neighborhood gathering reported by the Detroit Free Press.
What could the mayor say? The best crime news out of Detroit these days is that the rate of violent crimes – murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – fell 10% last year to 2,137 per 100,000 residents. That’s still more than five times the national average and more than enough to make Detroit America’s Most Dangerous City for the fourth year in a row.
To construct the list, we ranked U.S. cities with a population over 200,000 according to their violent crime rate as reported by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports database. These preliminary 2011 statistics come with more caveats than the black-box warning on a dangerous chemotherapy agent, and the FBI says they shouldn’t be used to compare one city with another. Differences in police reporting standards, urban borders and economics can make it tricky to compare densely populated Detroit, say, with sprawling Houston. We used cities instead of larger metropolitan statistical areas, which gave the disadvantage to older cities with tighter boundaries.
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I am looking for a common theme here?