March 13, 2012

March 13, 2012
5 Most Dangerous Cities

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Tuesday and I hope your week is off to a safe and great start. It is going to be another busy week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me. So stay tuned for pictures from our different trips coming up soon.

Speaking of traveling, we often end up in cities where we do not know our way around very much which can be dangerous in any city. But do you know what the five most dangerous cities are?

Every year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) releases its annual Uniform Crime Report. From this report, we can list (statistically) America’s most dangerous cities. Some might surprise you; others not so much. Regardless, all are selected based on hard data compiled by the bureau’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) unit.

Do not let this list get you down, though. The overall picture is actually much sunnier: Even though economic woes are up, crime (particularly violent crime) is down in the United States, and it has been trending downward for the last five years. But that does not mean you should abandon common sense wherever and whenever you travel. In general, avoid deserted areas, particularly at night, leave your valuables at home, and park in well lighted areas. Finally, keep in mind that statistics only tell a small part of the story; talk to locals for a fuller picture.

#1: Flint, Mich.

The birthplace of General Motors went into a tailspin when the auto industry collapsed and its workforce went from 80,000 to around 8,000. Michael Moore, a Flint native, documented the decline in his 1989 film Roger & Me, which memorably showed laid-off workers being evicted from their homes on Christmas Eve. With a median income of $27,049 — a whopping 46 percent below the national average — and 36 percent of its population living below the poverty line, gang activity and drugs have hit Flint hard. But police Chief Alvern Lock is stepping up community policing with such federally funded programs as the Blue Badge Volunteer Corps and by cementing partnerships with state police and area task forces. Early 2011 FBI statistics show that something is clearly working: The violent crime rate was down in nearly all categories.

#2: Detroit, Mich.

Few cities have had as precipitous a decline as Detroit. The bankrupt auto industry, the collapse of the housing bubble and the flight from the inner city — all have had a hand in Detroit’s Shakespearean fall from vital Midwestern hub to urban wasteland. But hopeful signs are everywhere. FBI statistics for the first half of 2011 indicate that violent crime is down 24 percent compared with the same period in 2010. Revitalization projects have pumped $1.5 billion into the city and have included a spiffed-up riverfront with the RiverWalk and green spaces. The Detroit Tigers (MLB) and Lions (NFL) both had stellar 2011 seasons. Urban farming is another proposal on the table, with 30,000 acres of vacant land ripe for crops.

#3: St. Louis, Mo.

This handsome riverfront city has plenty to recommend it, including several major sports teams and art museums. But violent crime, particularly gunplay, has exacted a grim toll. St. Louis has the country’s second-highest citywide gunshot rate for residents between the ages of 10 and 19 — a sorry statistic, indeed. It also recorded 41 murders per 100,000 people, five times the national average. Still, the city is seeing measurable overall declines in violent crime, with a 9 percent fall in 2010. It’s also one of 24 cities that have earned a grant from IBM’s Smarter City Challenge, with a mandate of making public safety a priority and creating a coordinated approach to tackling crime.

#4: New Haven, Conn.

The home of prestigious Yale University, New Haven has long wrestled with inner-city crime and poverty, and the result is a high ranking on the list of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. It had nearly 628 robberies per 100,000 people — nearly triple the number found in comparable urban areas. The good news is that violent crime dropped by 11 percent in the first six months of 2011, a regional trend. What’s more, award-winning urban renewal developments have revitalized the once-blighted downtown area. A proposed Downtown Crossing project, if approved, will convert an elevated 1950s-era expressway into urban boulevards, swaths of green spaces and bike paths, and a pedestrian-oriented street plan.

#5: Memphis, Tenn.

The blues were born on Beale Street in this atmospheric Southern city, where the cultural scene and barbecue are legendary. Indeed, early each May, the Beale Street Music Festival celebrates the rich musical heritage. But Memphis has struggled with poverty and gang activity for years, and the city’s 2010 robbery statistics were double that of the national average, earning it a spot on the list of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. The bigger picture is rosier: Violent crime has dropped 23 percent in the last five years, and efforts to stem youth involvement in crime have become shining examples for similarly afflicted urban areas.

Now you know the rest of the story. Have a great Tuesday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab