St. Louis Is the Third-Most Dangerous City


If there's a crime ranking, St. Louis will be top five. - DAN ZETTWOCH
  • Dan Zettwoch
  • If there's a crime ranking, St. Louis will be top five.
Don't let any of those grumpy old guys tell you America doesn't manufacture anything these days -- no other country in the world cranks out as many internet lists as we do. It's our second-largest industry, after political shouting programs.

At any rate, it's Thursday and according to something called 24/7 Wall St., St. Louis is the third-most dangerous city in America. It's not as flashy as being number one, but our city fathers always dispute these things anyway, so who knows?

So, where did 24/7 Wall St. get its stats? It used the FBI's Uniform Crime Report for 2011 (most recent year available) for the total number of crimes, the 2010 Census for population, and the 2011 unemployment rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Interestingly, the FBI statistics come with a warning: "Data users should not rank locales because there are many factors that cause the nature and type of crime to vary from place to place." Yeah, well screw you, Hoover; 24/7 Wall St. ain't got time to heed. They're gonna rank cities in an easily digestible, top-ten list that will make for great headlines.

For its list, 24/7 Wall St. used just the four violent crime categories the FBI measured (murder, forcible rape,robbery and aggravated assault), and computed the incidence of those crimes per 1,000 citizens. Median income, poverty rate and unemployment rates are also included. Here's what that formula kicks out for St. Louis.

St. Louis, Mo.
Violent crimes per 1,000: 18.6
Population: 320,454
2011 murders: 113
Median income: $32,688
Unemployment rate: 11.7%
Although the total number of murders in the city has decreased by 31 since 2010, crime in St. Louis did not improve overall last year. Violent crime rates in St. Louis have risen dramatically, from 17.5 to 18.6 cases per 1,000 people. And the city's murder rate is still the fourth highest in the nation, its robbery rate is the fifth highest in the nation and its aggravated assault rate is third highest in the nation.

So, that paints a pretty grim picture. And in a week where we've had a 14-year-old girl shot dead in front of her home, two men gunned down in the street and a drive-by shooting in broad daylight, it's hard to argue with the reality behind those numbers.

Incidentally, the number one most dangerous city is Flint, Michigan. Flint's violent crime rate per thousand citizens is 23.4, which dwarfs ours, but their murder rate of 52 is less than half of our 113. The big difference maker is their population -- with 102,357 people they have less than one-third of St. Louis' population, which makes each incident weigh heavier.

Of course, with our murder rate, we're diminishing our own population at an alarming rate -- we may be down there in the low hundred-thousands before too long.


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