Local News

Birmingham has placed near the top of a list of the most dangerous cities in America compiled by Forbes magazine, ranking slightly better than Memphis and slightly worse than Atlanta.

Detroit topped the Forbes "America's Most Dangerous Cities" list for 2012 despite the fact that violent crime in that city fell by 10 percent last year. The Motor City registered 344 murders last year, but, according to Forbes, "(h)igher rates of other violent crimes put it at the top of the list." Detroit has been at the top of the list for the last four years.

Birmingham landed at no. 5 on the list, with a violent crime rate of 1,483 per 100,000 residents. "Birmingham's persistently high crime rate can be attributed to the drug trade and its high poverty rate -- 26% versus 17% for the state as a whole, according to the U.S. Census Dept." The list did note that Birmingham's violent crime rate has dropped dramatically from a high in the 1990s.

Memphis, with a violent crime rate of 1,583 per 100,000 residents, was ranked as the fourth most dangerous city, while Atlanta, with a rate of 1,433 per 100,000 residents, came up sixth. St. Louis and Oakland came in second and third, respectively.

The "America's Most Dangerous Cities" list was compiled using preliminary data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports database. Forbes warns that this data comes "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."

Birmingham, with a population of 213,000, almost missed being ranked at all due to its population -- the Forbes list ranks only cities with a population of more than 200,000.

When asked for comment, Birmingham Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Johnny Williams referenced the BPD's own crime statistics, which show a double digit drop in violent crime during the first six months of 2012. The number of murders for the first half of the year -- 31 -- remained the same as last year, but rapes dropped 30 percent and assaults were down 19 percent.

Published: Friday, October 19, 2012, 10:00 AM
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012, 12:41 PM

By Madison Underwood | munderwood@al.com-The Birmingham News

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