Chicago is a violent city but it’s not the murder capital of the country. That’s according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.
A recent surge of killings in Chicago has drawn national attention to gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city. We’ve covered the situation in Chicago extensively here at NewsOne. Many consider Chicago to be the nation’s most dangerous city with people even dubbing it “Chi-raq.” It turns out though that when you adjust for the Chicago’s population size, there are smaller cities far more dangerous. From Pew:
In terms of raw number of murders, Chicago has long been at or near the top of U.S. cities, according to FBI crime statistics. In 2012, it had 500 murders, the most of any city in the country; Chicago has been among the top three cities with the most murders since 1985. (Fair warning: The FBI stats are compiled from reports by local police agencies that serve populations of at least 100,000, and for various reasons — including the fact that not all agencies reported data every year — can be difficult to compare meaningfully across cities or time periods.)
While the FBI won’t release official 2013 figures till later this year, the Chicago Tribune says there were 440 murders in the city last year. So far this year there have been 201 murders in Chicago, according to the Tribune’s count — roughly on pace with 2013.
But Chicago also has some 2.7 million residents, more than any other city except New York and Los Angeles, and you’d expect it to have more murders (and other crimes) than most other cities for that reason alone. Adjust the raw numbers for population size to get a murder rate, and a very different picture emerges.
According to the FBI figures, Flint, Mich., had the highest murder rate of any sizeable U.S. city in 2012, the most recent year available. There were 62 murders per 100,000 population (which, coincidentally, was just about Flint’s estimated population that year). Trailing Flint were Detroit (54.6 murders per 100,000), New Orleans (53.2 per 100,000) and Jackson, Miss., (35.8 per 100,000). Chicago, whose population is several times bigger than any of those cities, came in 21st, with 18.5 murders per 100,000 — nearly quadruple the national average, true, but still nowhere near the highest in the country. (It’s worth noting that New Orleans didn’t report data in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina struck.
In short: While Chicago sadly leads the country in the total number of murders, when you put those deaths in the context of the city’s total population, its murder rate falls behind those of smaller cities – namely, Flint and Detroit, Michigan.