Birmingham NOT one of the most dangerous cities in America

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.

You’re going to read that the City of Birmingham’s homicides are way up over last year. Homicides are up, but they appear to be up everywhere

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).

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8 thoughts on “Birmingham NOT one of the most dangerous cities in America”

  1. *David, you are a “God Send” to point out that Birmingham is no more dangerous than any other metropolitan city. 

  2. *Thanks David; that is welcome news to me! I never knew what to tell my friends in the suburbs when they say things like, “I never go to Birmingham when I can help it; that place is a war zone.”

  3. ” Our media bombards us with one homicide story after another.” No,
    it reports on what actually happens in our Black-on-Black crime . . .
    they don’t make this stuff up. I personally don’t care whether our crime
    rate is lower that Memphis, Nashville, Chicago, or Atlanta for that
    matter. I don’t live in those cities for good reason. Your reasoning
    sounds like, “Well, we’re better off than Fallujah” . . . well, duh! Hey, and how ’bout that mayor/city councilman fistfight? How embarrassing for our city and state.

    I respect your efforts, but Birmingham reality and politics defeat your
    efforts at every turn. People fled to the south-of-town suburbs for a
    reason. Why people are moving to lofts and condos downtown is beyond me –
    maybe they’re too young and clueless to understand our history.

    But you keep on plugging.
    Maybe in 50 years when the CBS annual re-runs of Birmingham’s Bull
    Conner days and police dogs and firehoses end, then maybe we can move on
    to another future. Meanwhile, Birmingham and its “elected” officials
    continue to shoot themselves in the foot and return to our ’60s’ past


  4. *Every night on television I see someone is murdered in Birmingham. Just this week the Mayor got into a fight. BIRMINGHAM IS A VIOLENT CITY.

  5. There are parts of Birmingham City that are violent–I can’t deny that.  But there are neighborhoods of other major cities that are more violent than Birmingham and those cities are not classified as violent.  I used Nashville as an example–more violent crime than Birmingham–but Birmingham classified as violent city and Nashville is not.  Only difference is Nashville has County/City government and is measured accordingly.  

    As to disfunction of Birmingham City government–it is the same issue.  If we had a more regional governance like Nashville, our elected officials would be more representative of our our region.

    People out of state consider us all living in Birmingham even if we live in the suburbs. So companies don’t want to locate here–costing us jobs and population growth–and we all suffer.

  6. *Birmingham’s newsmedia is one of it’s biggest problems.  It loves to
    report the worst of Birmingham and that has been the case for many
    years.  And sadly, some people are naive enough to believe it.   And
    notice how some people love to drag up incidents such as the Mayor and
    councilman incident.  Such people are desperate to find something,
    anything to tear Birmingham down.  In most cities, they would be run out
    of town.

    David, don’t pay any attention to the bashers and
    haters.  They hate you because you are trying to built Birmingham up and
    they can’t stand that.  Ignore the ignorant fools.

    Skip M.

  7. *Ooops.  Even though I proofread, I missed the 2nd from last line.  It should have read, ‘because you are trying to build up Birmingham’,  not built up.  My bad.


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