Memphis leads U.S. metropolitan areas in its violent crime rate for last year, says an analysis by criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Based on the annual FBI compilation issued on Monday, the Memphis area had 1262.7 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, top among 300 metro areas studied. Second was Sumter, S.C., with 1244, and third was Shreveport-Bossier City, La., with 1187.9. Considering only homicide data, the top metro area was New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La., with a rate of 21.7 per 100,000 residents. Flint, Mi., was second, and Baton Rouge, La., third. The full list may be seen on crimetrends.com.
Rosenfeld notes that crime rankings mix offenses can mix offenses of differing seriousness, and they ignore changes over time and crime differences between neighborhoods in the same city. He maintains that, if crime rates are to be compared, the comparisons should be based on metropolitan areas and not cities, because the suburban population is counted in the metropolitan area crime rate. Even the metro area crime rates should be compared with caution. Factors such as age, lifestyle, and neighborhood characteristics are much more important than the either the city or metro area a person lives in for determining his or her crime risk.