Sometimes I feel invisible.
No one seems to hear me when I insist that Birmingham is NOT one of the most dangerous cities in America.
We hear that Birmingham has historically been a rough and tumble town. Our media bombards us with one homicide story after another.
Every year respected publications like Forbes include Birmingham in its list of one of the 10 most dangerous cities in America.
Our propensity to crime is just accepted as part of our DNA.
However, the comparison between Birmingham and other cities is flawed.
The City of Birmingham, one of 35+ municipalities in Jefferson County, is measured against cities with consolidated governments (county/city) that include much broader boundaries. Birmingham’s crime statistics don’t include Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Trussville, etc., where there is very little crime.
Nashville and other cities with metropolitan (county/city) governments average in their suburbs. So, for instance, the City of Birmingham is compared to Nashville/Davidson County, Tennessee.
Here’s the latest FBI statistics for 2013 Metropolitan Birmingham (5 counties) to Metropolitan Nashville and Memphis:
Violent crimes per 100,000 residents*
- Birmingham 529.8
- Nashville 596.1
- Memphis 992
Number of violent crimes
- Birmingham 2,852
- Nashville 6,612
- Memphis 10,894
Can you imagine what the crime rate must be in the urban areas of Nashville and Memphis? Their number of violent crimes dwarfs Birmingham.
At least Birmingham gets to include the low crime statistics of downtown which has crime rates comparable to Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills.
- Indianapolis homicide rate on tract to be deadliest year ever
- Baltimore reaches its highest ever homicide rate
- Houston murder rate skyrockets
Through December 10th–there had been 2,818 shooting victims in Chicago.
Please note that Indianapolis, Houston–even Chicago, don’t show up on Forbes list of most dangerous cities–(and Birmingham does). You know that’s nonsense.
Some folks will take a cheap shot by commenting on the unfortunate incident that occurred at Birmingham City Hall yesterday. Was that any worse than the August baseball bat beating of the Mayor of Talladega who had previously been convicted on federal charges involving theft from the city? Please note that assault took place in Vestavia Hills—and counted in its statistics.
Violent crime can happen anywhere—in the City of Birmingham, outside the City of Birmingham, and in other cities throughout the U.S.
If we are going to compare, let’s be consistent and fair.
(Read more about how our crime compares: Damn it! Birmingham not that dangerous)
*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.
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David Sher is co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).