Damn it! Birmingham’s not that dangerous

The latest FBI crime statistics will be posted everywhere soon.

Each year, the FBI releases its crime statistics and Birmingham’s portrayed as one of the most dangerous cities in America.

The City of Birmingham, one of 37 municipalities in Jefferson County, is measured against cities that include much broader boundaries.  So Birmingham’s numbers don’t include Mt. Brook, Vestavia, Trussville, etc.

It seems like we read about a shooting almost every day in Birmingam–crime is high in the City, but crime is also high in similar areas in other cities.  The FBI, however, measures the City of Birmingham (which is not a metro) against other cities that are.  (See, BALONEY: Birmingham named 5th most dangerous city)

It’s only fair to compare metro to metro:  (I’ve totaled the numbers since the FBI doesn’t)

2011 FBI crime statistics for “Violent Crime”

(In the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force.)

(Metro:  Violent crime per 100,000 people )

Birmingham, AL 524.2

Baton Rouge, LA 586.8

Chattanooga, TN 501.0

Florence, SC 658.3

Gainesville, FL 598.4

Greenville, SC 539.7

Huntsville, AL 501.9

Jackson, TN 743.6

Jacksonville, FL 523.6

Little Rock, AR 746.0

Memphis, TN 980.4

Mobile, AL 608.2

Myrtle Beach, SC 668.8

Nashville, TN 650.8

Oklahoma City, OK 528.2

Orlando, FL 595.7

Panama City, FL 534.6

Pensacola, FL 526.7

Tallahassee, FL 661.1

Now let’s look at murder rates specifically.

2011 FBI statistics for murder

(Metro:  Murders per 100,000 people)

We’re not even top in the State.

B’ham 8.9

Anniston, AL 11.8

Mobile, AL 11.3

Montgomery, AL 10.4

Memphis is 10.6 and New Orleans is 23.7.

It’s important to note that the murder rate in the City of Birmingham has almost been cut in half in the past twenty years from 140 in 1992 to 77 last year.

So what are your chances of being murdered in the streets of Birmingham?  Birmingham Police Deputy Chief Herman Hilton says most of the city’s homicides are difficult to prevent since many of the murders occur “in someone’s residence.”

Murders and crime happen everywhere.  Statistically we might not be the best, but we are far from the worst.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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3 thoughts on “Damn it! Birmingham’s not that dangerous”

  1. David,

    I have read your emails/blogs from time to time.  Can understand how you arrive at your position and perspective on a number of issues.  While I do not agree totally with many of the basis for your conclusions I respect your voice given long you have been active in civic, commerce and political affairs in our community.

    In terms of this issue, one of the associations that I chair hosted the chief of the FBI for Alabama address our constituency earlier this year.  He provided the basis for their reporting mechanisms and the validity behind the concern for the urban center of Metropolitan Birmingham.  He claimed that their reporting was consistent with other similar sized communities such as Jackson, MS, Chattanooga, TN, etc.  He did note the numerous municipal divisions in Central AL and that its taken into account in their ranking/reporting.

    I remember him stating that Metro Birmingham has over four times the amount of agents and law enforcement officials per population distribution than the average city in Alabama and that in his opinion that this was not enough.  He believed that the only true way to “police this issue” is for the civic leaders, faith-based community and fathers to get involved the shaping of the cultural fabric of our city.  He said law enforcement only tries to contain and hold at bay the underlying cultural fabric that disrupts civility.  However, it never can make a significant impact on the culture.

    I thought his observations were profound and worth sharing…

  2. *Nice call David.  While I too read the metro section of the newspaper and shake my head, are we really up there with New Orleans, Detroit or Memphis?  How about East St. Louis?  That said, the situation we have here, involving home invasions, gang-land shootings, and general spraying of bullets in certain neighborhoods are indicative of some real problems.  Among them: a poorly administered and led school system, poor, whining leadership coming from within the city boundaries, and an electorate that is willing to elect people to high offices who have no place occupying those chairs.  When are real leaders willing to stand up for what is right for the community and not just what will benefit them?  An attitude like that might just be catching.  

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