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)
(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.
(Metro: Murders per 100,000 people)
We’re not even top in the State.
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.
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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).