The Akron, Ohio, metropolitan area had the bigget percentage increase in its violent crime rate between 2000 and 2007, 76.3 percent, says the Urban Institute, based on an analysis of data reported to the FBI. Metro areas after Akron on the list were Des Moines, 64.2 percent; Little Rock, 50.8 percent, and Las Vegas, 50.1 percent. The institute’s Meagan Cahill writes that, “Surprisingly, the 10 metros that enjoyed the biggest declines in violent crime are almost six times larger on average than the 10 that experienced the biggest increases.” The 10 areas with the largest crime declines include three of the largest metro areas in the United States–New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Among the 10 metro areas with the biggest declines in violence from 2000 to 2007, all but two (McAllen-Edinburgh-Mission, Texas, Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash. had above-average violent crime rates in 2000, says the institute. The opposite is true for the 10 metro areas that had the biggest increases in violence; only two had above-average crime rates at the start of the decade (Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., and Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.). In other words, violent crime is rising in smaller metros with lower crime rates and falling in bigger metros with higher crime rates. This defies the conventional wisdom that big metros are becoming more and more dangerous places to live, Cahill says, suggesting researchers and policymakers should focus more attention on the small metros.