July 14, 2014

Despite recent shootings, Chicago nowhere near U.S. ‘murder capital’

FT_14.07.14_HighestMurderRatesThe spate of 82 shootings in Chicago over the July 4th holiday weekend, in which at least 16 people were killed, drew national attention to gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city. But that focus risks missing the bigger picture: When adjusted by population, murder rates are far higher in smaller cities than in larger ones, such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

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 fact, what’s striking is that from 1985 through 2012 only six cities have held the anti-honor of having the nation’s highest murder rate: New Orleans (12 times, most recently in 2011); Washington, D.C. (eight times, most recently in 1999); Detroit (four times, most recently 2006), Flint, Mich. (twice, also in 2010); Richmond, Va. (once, in 1997) and Birmingham, Ala. (once, in 2005).

Another thing that jumps out from looking at the murder-rate data: How the threshold for having the nation’s highest murder rate has fallen since the early 1990s, when the nation’s crack epidemic helped push violent-crime rates to record highs. In 1994, for instance, New Orleans led with 85.8 murders per 100,000; the next two cities, Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C., had rates of 70 or more per 100,000. Even in terms of raw numbers, Chicago has come a long way: In 1994 the city had 928 murders.


Topics: Criminal Justice

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.

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  1. suthie582 weeks ago

    San Pedro Sula is in Honduras not the USA. This article is a about highest murder rate in the US.

  2. woody2 months ago

    I would suggest that the numbers in the smaller cities by land area lead to skewed statistics. Cities like Richmond, Cleveland and Baltimore always lead this list. Richmond is 60 sq miles, Cleveland 77 and Baltimore 80. Chicago is 240 sq miles. The net effect in a city like Richmond is that all you have a higher percentage of “bad” areas in that small of an area compared to larger cities. 60% of Richmond’s murders happen within one block of one of the six public housing projects in town. Basically if you had no public housing the rate would be only 1/2 what it is. If you project out to 240 sq miles in Richmond the population would by around 700K instead of 200K and you would only add about 5 additional murders a year.

  3. robbg4 months ago

    Has no one looked into Camden NJ? lived there for a while (amazingly) before returning back to good ol’ DC and mother from cook county CHICAGO rather than go out of the way to gather statistics on murder why not try to come up with a plan to prevent it? <<<<never Goin to happen but yea…

  4. Ron M4 months ago

    nice job of evasive political begging the question. A simple answer wold have been straight forward no of deaths…

    1. Ron M4 months ago

      Afraid to face the truth?

  5. davon5 months ago

    in richmond va its the teens thats carring the guns and killing

  6. Tunchi5 months ago

    Chicago is The most dangerous place to live in the United states they dont call it “Chi-Raq” for no reason.

    1. Gordon4 months ago

      Did you read the article? Actually, only ignorant Fox-bots who have never ventured out of Bugtussle MIss believe that Chicago is dangerous.

      1. U.S. Army Ranger John3 months ago


        First, my comment is not intended to insult you or to incite an argument, which always leads to those on the left resorting to personal attacks. If we are going to repair the cracks within our society, we will have to abandon the 3rd grade level insults and name calling. Those cracks are widening at a pace never seen before, including the Civil War. That’s a very dangerous sign for a country experiencing some of the worse economical issues since the Great Depression. It’s like a tank, full of the most flammable substance known to man, being punctured, within a sealed room. The vapors are filling the air and one spark will ignite those vapors. Once that ignition takes place, it’s not going to be stopped until most of the fuel burns.

        I have been to Chicago, many times, to work with federal law enforcement and I can tell you that Chicago is considered, by law enforcement personnel, among the most dangerous cities to work. It’s not just the murder rate, either. Assaults, domestic abuse, armed robberies, etc., are considered as dangerous crimes. One other factor that doesn’t get included in to the numbers is the # of missing and presumed dead people. Those cases are not added in to the numbers that are used to create a ranking of “dangerous cities”. If one adds those numbers, Chicago leaps ahead of most cities.

        I am curious about your “Fox-Bots” comment. I read and/or hear the negative comments, about Fox News and I find it difficult to reconcile how the most accurate, transparent and balanced cable news source is made to be the bad guys, by the left and other news outlets are favored by the left. Of course, I am not nieve, nor am I influenced by any political party. i understand why the other news outlets are favored by the left – they push the liberal/progressive/socialist agenda. i consider myself an American, above all else. I am a “Fiscal Conservative”, since we are required to wear labels and my loyaly and love for my country is not for sale to any political entity. i vote Republican, because it is the party that mostly gets it, when it comes to fiscal responsibility and the management of our resources. Our economy is the most important thing that is impacted by our government and it determines the quality of life we have. If a country fails to build and maintain a sound economy it will fail or struggle to provide its citizens with an environment that is conducive to success.

        I have asked a lot of liberals to provide me with just 10 examples of how Fox News “twist” what they reort. As of today, I haven’t received one response. Now, I don’t agree with some of the opinions, but, that’s what they are – opinions. It has been proven that all of the other cable news sources, like the (C)linton (N)ews (N)etwork, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, slant to the left and that their error rate is above where it would be if it were only slanting the news. It has been proven, through various independent studies, that those left wing news sources not only slant the news, but, intentionally use their platform to advance the liberal agenda.

        So, Gordon, how about you be the first to accept my challenge m. Prove to me and the world that Fox News is the “evil” monster, lurking to consume, enslave and empriso no liberals. Your personal attack on those of us who live in the south is a perfect example of the arrogance that permeates within the ranks of the democrat party. I don’t know if you have travelled much and made attempts to learn and respect other cultures, outside of your own. I have! I have travelled all over the world and the Throughout the U.S. I have met people from northern cities and rural areas and I can assure that ignorant people walk among all of us. I can, also, assure you that there are great minds, in the south, who can compete with the “superior” minds of the north. So, my point is, stick to the issues and drop the “ignorant” assumptions that do not contribute to the debate. The only reason you would not chose to do so would be your refusal to respect others. You may not be able to respect others, which is expected from a minority of people. If that’s the case, you should go ahead join one of the extremist groups, like the Black Panthers or one of the Socialist extremist groups.

        I hope you and your family has a very Merry Christmas and that the New Year is your best yet.

      2. Keith3 months ago

        Considering that Chicago has 1/4 of the population of NYC, but twice as many shootings, it’s not quite as safe as you make it out to be. Heck, even the mayor’s own son was mugged outside of his home with police officers that saw him every day and were familiar with him less than a block away.

      3. Mike3 months ago

        Chicago is dangerous! We recently had a friend shot and killed. I am a male white, 45 years old. I was just saying that I know personally or thru friends 12 people murdered. Don’t believe the hype, chicago or cook county is dangerous. Perhaps not every nook, but the areas with problems have serious problems.

      4. Jake2 months ago

        I think the source of Chicago’s violence is in the south side IMO.

      5. Dani2 months ago

        Everybody thinks where they live or come from is a dangerous place to live, but to say Chicago isn’t dangerous, that’s ignorant.

  7. Michael5 months ago

    Lord help these cities

  8. Steve5 months ago

    This article is stupid, how can you compare a big city with a small city. Most of the Homicides in Chicago are in the bad neighborhoods. The northside is where all the rich, middle class hipster yuppies and college students stay, people raising families. Northside of
    Chicago hardly has any homicides (if you do the research) Most of he homicides are in the South and West sides of Chicago. Comparing a city with millions to hundreds thousands is dump. The more upper class middle class people dilutes the crime statistics that is just common sense. There are neighborhoods more dangerous in Chicago then New Orleans and Detriot

    1. Toni5 months ago

      its not just select neighborhoods in New Orleans, its the whole city. Do Your research.

    2. Erik4 months ago

      Steve you are wrong (if you do the research). I lived in Rogers Park (Northside of Chicago) for four years and there were people shot and/or killed regularly. In fact there have been 33 homicides since 2007. So much for hipster, yuppie theory.

    3. SISU4 months ago

      Concerning the chart of murders per captia in the six murder capitals, the city that stayed the most consistant ( was the most level), was Detroit started in the 50’s per 100K and ended in the 50’s per 100K. My guess is NOLA was overall more violent in the given timespan. NOLA had a # of high spikes, but it started the chart @ 27 per 100K and ended in the 50’s per 100K.
      What I do know is the U.N. list of the 50 most murder prone cities 250K + the only two U.S. cities were NOLA and Detroit, they were only a few spots apart and no the were not at the very last of the list.
      The other point I would like to debunk is the notion that CHItown is the most bipolrized
      in the Country, Metro Detroit is 4/4.5 MIL the city proper 670K @ 82% black. That is the Blackest city in the nation, This happened in the decades after the riots. The white flight out of a city IS THE defination of BIPOLAR, when it comes flight the city lost 270K between 2000 and 2010. Cities like the SIX on the most murder prone are violent through out the city. The last I saw people were not fleeing Chicago, more like moving their. I am familiar with CHI, I will admit Englewood, Lawndale and Pullman would suck to live in but at least Chicago has a mass transit system, considered a Golbal city AND has not been fuctioning @ a bankrupt state of being.

  9. Ronell6 months ago

    I’m from Detroit & trust me it’s bad we do have ppl getting shot everyday in their house & riding bikes
    But it sad that it’s like that not a list I want my city atop of

  10. John6 months ago

    New Orleans is the most dangerous of all cities in America . it all gets swept under the rug so you can visit for Food & Mardi Gras lol sorry ppl but that’s the truth . Do yo research, it’s like nobody makes it out..

    minus all the shooting & killings during Katrina in deep water ppl

    Its not called “Choppa City” for nothing
    or “the bucket of crabs”

    —- Can’t make it to the top with out being pulled down

  11. skibbieshits6 months ago

    Crazy how we are at war with each other in this county…

    1. Mike6 months ago

      We? Who’s we?? Take a look at the pictures… This is a cultural issue that seems to get worse in large cities. It starts in the family and can ONLY get better in the family. Govt., schools… no power or true influence. Once america takes responsibility for the lives it brings into the world, the sooner we can all live in ‘peace’.

      1. correcty fairy4 months ago

        I guess you don’t understand the “pictures”, ie the graphs on this article or the text accompanying it.

        The two biggest cities in the US have lower murder rates than CHI-town, which is smaller. And Chicago has a lower rate than Jackson, MS or Flint, MI, which are significantly smaller than Chicago.

        The reasons why are complicated but you can’t even grapple with the facts. Probably about as credible as your meticulously researched proposed explanation.

  12. Maryanne6 months ago

    More interesting than controlling for a city’s population would be murders, shootings and crime by population/square mile. This would control for urban sprawl and give a more granular picture of communities with greater crime.

  13. Lakawak7 months ago

    Kinda ridiculous to compare a city of 100,000 people with one of several million…even using per capita. IT is a totally different culture in the smaller cities.

  14. Shon Williams7 months ago

    Whites committed a higher rate of murders from 11700-1940. Black murders increased with introduction of crack, cocaine and heroine from 1960-Current. Black murders are half of what they were 20 yrs ago. Facts don’t lie. Your parents do.

    1. Mike6 months ago

      Look at chicago and all the white on anybody violent crime. You’re living in your own lies. Sad. I’m not white but I can read and look at all the homicide logs/stats. You are color blind. I’m just factual.

    2. max6 months ago

      from 11700-1940 ? you said Black murders increased with introduction of crack, cocaine and heroine from 1960-Current.well if the increased all these years why did you say Black murders are half of what they were 20 yrs ago?

    3. jim6 months ago

      Do you really believe heroine was introduced in 1960? It has been used in this country far longer than that. By blacks as well as whites. True, facts don’t lie. However, you sound as if you don’t have all the facts.

    4. Stephen Boesch4 months ago

      11700-1940 ??

  15. Ruppert7 months ago

    The murder rates in virtually every single US city are directly proportional to the percentage of black people in that city.
    In fact, if you were to see a list of US cities with the highest percentage of blacks, side by side with a list of the cities with the highest murder rates, the lists would look almost identical, top to bottom.

    There is no other demographic factor that aligns more closely with the murder rate than the black-white percentage rate.

    1. Mike C.7 months ago

      Actually you are wrong and way wrong. The highest demo associated with murder actually is white male. Especially the white male in late 50 and over. Sad, sad fact.

      As you can see, murder and white men. Over 3 x the levels of black murders just by itself.

      1. Doug6 months ago

        Looks like suicide stats, not murder.

      2. Truth6 months ago

        Um, that link of yours isnt about murder rates. Its suicide rates.

    2. HG Olson4 months ago

      Hear Hear!

  16. bev7 months ago

    Why are we even arguing over which city kills more people? People are dying for no damn good reason!

  17. Khawwah7 months ago

    I am from Chicago, and I know for a fact can’t nobody compare Detroit to Chicago. When you talk about the crime in Detroit I’m pretty sure you don’t have innocent kids being shot in the house while at a sleepover, or a mother driving in the highway and getting shot in her car. Chicago has gotten so bad that you can’t walk down the street without somebody riding pass shooting you while on a bike. If your not from Chicago you can’t pin point or compare Chicago to Detroit. You hear Chicago everyday in the news about a child or an elderly or innocent person being shot just from walking or seating down or just in the house. I’m not proud of my city, but one thing I will say, Chicago is murder capital and the roughest city to live in at this moment.

    1. John6 months ago

      Stop it , New Orleans is the worst city to live in or even visit… Its to dam small here and too much little man syndrome & the stats don’t show everything,
      its a lot of witchcraft & voodoo priest here . You don’t need to get shot here to die , you can get a hex on ya as well.
      I will move to Chicago or Detroit any day

      1. thomas5 months ago

        I live in NOLa. It’s a great place to live. But there are places i don’t go at certain times because of the thugs. You won’t have any trouble if you stay in the decent places. The majority of the murders do not occur in the french quarter. It’s mostly in the poor neighborhoods and over drugs.

      2. Tunchi5 months ago

        That will be a Bad decision to move to CHICAGO

    2. Dongor6 months ago

      You must live in Englewood. I have lived in Chicago (Northwest side) all my life, and never witnessed a crime, much less been a victim of one.

    3. Stephen Boesch4 months ago

      I lived in Queens and Brooklyn and traveled through all the neighborhoods. Also some parts of the Bronx. They can not even begin to touch the South side of Chicago. I was terrified one time we traveled the local roads instead of the Skyway.

  18. Ddavid7 months ago

    But the question/facts remain, how many are blacks this deliberately omits.He doesn’t even breakdown or mention White on Black crime. I’m guessing he is “cherry picking his data” that are just premeditated lies of omissions that are the very worst kind. I have serious questions about Pew as there is no link to it here…..

  19. Hello Hello7 months ago

    Are the statistics on shootings significantly different city by city???

    In Chicago there were 2,185 shootings, with 440 dead to distinguish the difference.

    Is that high or low compared to other cities?

  20. Hello Hello7 months ago

    There are reports that Chicago has been underreporting.

    For instance, if one person shot three people, they would record that as one shooting, not three.

    So this year they said they would change that.

    Some of the magazines tracking all this really have found that the numbers are not reliable, prompting some heated discussions at City Hall.

  21. Griffin Ed7 months ago

    How about statistics breaking down Ethnicity of victim & shooter please?

  22. Hello Hello7 months ago

    Chicago still has high numbers – 440 were killed last year

    However, Chicago also has a high number of shootings 2,185 last year – I don’t know how that stacks up against the other cities.

    But 2,185 people shot –

    A typical weekend in the summer in Chicago is about 20 shot, 5 dead.

    It is out of control

  23. lisa7 months ago

    No matter the hype, the under reported numbers, the murder capital list… children being killed is not acceptable. And frankly if Chicago is getting the so called golden press then they better do something with it. How do we find solutions?

  24. Gazza7 months ago

    I agree with the Chicago-is-overhyped tone of the article. It needs to be said, seriously.

    Nine people were shot to death outside a morgue in San Pedro Sula the other day, yet it’s barely a footnote. One wonders what the news would be like if this happened in Chicago.

    I don’t believe Chicago’s had a shooting like it, yet this is commonplace in San Pedro Sula.

    Where is the wall-to-wall coverage?

  25. Peter7 months ago

    Some years back there was a scandal concerning the NJ state coroner’s office – or perhaps it was that of some NJ locality. Anyway, they found a case where a guy’s cause of death was listed as pneumonia and he had three bullet holes in his skull. I guess it was the draft that did him in. Keep those holes covered, guys.

  26. Paul7 months ago

    What about Baltimore. Baltimore and Washington, DC statistics maybe should be presented as a total number. Geographically they are very close to each other.

  27. Brandon Hunter7 months ago

    I’m surprised that Newark, New Jersey (aka Brick City) is not accounted for. When you look at the murder rate per capita, it blows Chi-Town away. And, from what I understand, Newark chisels off some of those numbers by attributing any bodies or homicides found in county parks to Essex County stats rather than the city of Newark.

  28. Mike G7 months ago

    Wait until the protesters find out how many are killed in Chicago, they’ll never rest!

  29. Mike G7 months ago

    The Cities all have something in common.
    Can you think of what it is?

    1. Peter7 months ago

      Trying to get people in trouble, are you?

    2. The WISE ONE7 months ago

      POVERTY AS A RESULT OF JOBLESSNESS, POOR EDUCATION AND CRIME. THAT’S WHAT ALL THESE CITIES HAVE IN COMMON. Poverty, a lack of faith in having a place in society, and a lack of knowledge – spiritual and non-spiritual, helps drive crime, as well as the biggest problem of all, OPPRESSION.

      Oppression causes disillusionment. Oppression causes anger. To keep people off the streets, they need to be actively using their minds, to do things that they have a passion for, and be able to make a living doing them.

      1. Baba77 months ago

        My sentiments exactly.

      2. Lucifer7 months ago

        True indeed! I think you’d be interested in a new theoretical book called “How the Poor Can Save Capitalism”.

    3. Baba77 months ago

      Yeah…they have a heavy police presence…

    4. Dongor6 months ago


  30. oneday8 months ago

    Chicago is under reporting it’s murder rates anyway, so the numbers are unreliable. They are labeling murders as noncriminal deaths to avoid bad publicity, so it is unclear how many people were actually murdered last year: chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/…

    1. Matt7 months ago

      You just can’t accept the fact that Chicago isn’t murder capital, can you? Detroit Michigan had a murder rate of 54.6, three times as high as Chicago. do you really think those reports would inflate Chicago’s numbers that high?

      1. Dee7 months ago

        Funny how so many people like to compare Detroit or wherever else to chicago and so. Most have no clue about chicago. Most don’t realize that chicago is arguably the most segregated city in the nation. (Which has been writing about and reported for decade.) with that being said Chicagoans know that chicago is pretty much three different cities in one. Southside, Northside and everything else. If you want to slant statistics to make smaller cities feel like they are experiences worse situations, let’s break it down even a little more. Per capita is not the only statistics that count. Did anyone see the list of most violent neighborhoods in the country. Two of the top four reported were from chicago. I believe this was reported by Fox News. Look up the Gresham neighborhood. However Gresham is not nearly the worse neighborhoods in chicago. Chicagos Englewood neighborhood is one of the biggest on the southside and has majority of the murders in the city happening there. There was a chicago tribune article I believe in 2011 that showed this. That year every other part of chicago experience lower murders expect Englewood. Englewood had as many murders as some small cities had in total. So if you look at chicago for what it is. A segregated city where the southside of chicago is considered the hood. That where all the murdered happen. Find me another piece of land in the country the size of the southside of chicago or the chicago Englewood neighborhood and tell me that anywhere else has more murder total or per capita. Show me those numbers. Other than that none of this matter or make sense. Most kids on the southside of chicago have never been to the Northside of chicago. Most kids on the south side of chicago have never been to the Sears tower or downtown. Well I will say of lot of kids. Chicago has been well know as being a fruit bowl and not a melting pot like the history books say about many other cl if cities. The southside is it’s own city. Run those numbers.

        1. Gazza7 months ago

          I think you’re being blinded by the hype around Chicago. I’ll give you my take:

          The media are deliberately focusing on Chicago for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, making it look far worse than it actually is (this is the point of the piece I believe) and I commend Pew for that part of the article.

          There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that New Orleans’s worst sectors dwarf the southside in homicide. Remember that Chicago’s central municipality has a land area of 227 square miles and 2.7M inhabitants, compared to NOLA’s central municipality of 181 square land miles and 350/400k inhabitants. You would have to break ‘New Orleans’ down, it’s already nearly as large but with seven times fewer inhabitants. The murder rate is also three times higher already.

          Gary would be closer to NOLA though still safer, it’s murder rate is more striking than anywhere in Chicago’s central municipality for me. It has much lower pop. density and often a higher murder rate than Englewood.

          Getting back to the hype and what I don’t like about the media’s obsession with Chicago (which is quite disturbing in itself): While kids are comparatively being wiped out in New Orleans, San Pedro Sula or Rio de Janeiro, journalists are still giving Chicago most of the coverage – ahead of every other city on the entire ‘planet’. It’s not acceptable. Not only is it unfair on Chicago, it’s unfair on the San Pedro Sula’s, Rio’s etc. and scores and scores of other cities with larger homicide problems that are being overlooked.

          I’ve been told (by someone who knows what they’re talking about) that just in Brazil alone there are something like over 100 cities with higher murder rates than Chicago. Where are they? I never hear about them. They’re too busy going on about Chicago.

          My two cents.

          1. Word.7 months ago

            Why focused on Chicago? A few top reasons:
            1. Chicago attempts strong gun control…angers the gun rights crowd who likes to use our homicide rates for their cause.

            2. Our President is from Chicago’s Southside and the gun rights crowd are the same people who fear him “Obama is taking our guns”

            3. Chicago is a deeply “blue” city…an easy target for those that want to see “liberal” gun policies as a failure in controlling murders…without understanding the issue at all.

          2. John6 months ago

            Real talk

          3. Dongor6 months ago

            Word is correct; but number two is actually number one. Obama is from Chicago, so it must be a dungheap, right? You never saw this Chicago slander prior to 2008, when murder rates were actually higher.

          4. Brother Ahmawan5 months ago

            No city in the US of A compares to Rio de janeiro in Murders. Just check out the true story, City of God, and Favela rising. By far the most VIOLENT accounts of life in Rio I’ve ever seen illustrated. I have people in Chicago. And yes it is CRAZY in the Englewood area. So I do agree with both DONGOR and WORD on their assessment on Chicago.

        2. CJM7 months ago

          I agree that Chicago has historically had huge amounts of segregation and that some neighborhoods are still segregated as a result. But Chicago isn’t the most segregated city any more. Many neighborhoods on the north side (and even a couple of neighborhoods on the south side) are actually quite diverse and reasonably safe. I would contrast this with some cities in, say, Connecticut (Hartford, where I lived for 3 years, comes to mind) where there are no diverse neighborhoods. Chicago has a ways to go, true, but it’s not as backwards as it’s often portrayed.

    2. Mike7 months ago

      If you read the article, it is unclear by how many they are under reporting, but the writer of the article said they were able to find 10 deaths that appeared to be Mia-classified, so your argument doesn’t mean much. 10 deaths in a city of 2.7 million doesn’t move the needle.

    3. Tammy7 months ago

      New York has a long standing history of under reporting to the point they were actually investigated. Give me a break. People need to stop with trying saying Chicago is underreporting numbers and they have no basis of proof to offer.

      1. Hello Hello7 months ago

        In New York, they always ask you, ” Are you sure you want to file a report?”

        The police are told to discourage the reporting – right at the beginning of the process.

        So much for records and numbers.

  31. Gazza8 months ago

    Just to add if I may (I accidently pressed the ‘post comment’ button), New Orleans had easily a higher murder rate than Washington did in 1991. It was double. It says so in the FBI report for that year.

    ‘DC’ was higher only if you use the ‘city’ (‘municipality’) and not the ‘MSA’ (a real CITY). It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Washington ‘DC’ takes up far less of it’s MSA than New Orleans’ central municipality does.

  32. Gazza8 months ago

    I’m a bit confused by this.

    The FBI discourage comparing ‘cities’ (municipalities) against each other and prioritize M(etropolitan) S(statistical) A(rea) (recognizable cities) data.

  33. Rev. Riley8 months ago

    i believe that the number of Murders that have occurred can be reduced significantly. Especially, the numbers in Chicago. The rate is so high because we have become an immoral society. While gun violence contribute greatly to the numbers, gun violence is not the real problem. The problem is we have forgot what it means to be human. We do not teach our children what it means to be human in our school nor in our churches. To be human is to respect the dignity and worth of others as human. We need to teach how children how to value life. If we do this, if we really teach our children what it means to be human, they would rather harm themselves before they harm another person. We have an increasing problem that will only get worst if we do not wake up and see the value of life in this generation. This only comes through, sustained attention, trained habit and careful vision. Must people who kill know that they would kill before the moment of choice. if we train them to demonstrate love and justice and provide the necessary resources for their florishing, these numbers will change. Put a gun in a person’s hand who values life and knows what it mean to be human, he or she would think twice before taking the life of another. It is my goal to help clean up the city of Chicago and use my efforts as a model for the nations.

    1. Peter7 months ago

      I agree in general but murders committed by organized crime are almost like casualties of war. Once one gets involved with one of these gangs one will be assigned to tasks that include violence where favorable. You might think of these gangs as small societies within a society, partly funded from outside (e.g. drug cartels). If we could break up these gangs murder rates would fall quite a bit. Omnipresent surveillance and an aging population will also contribute, though one hesitates to be thankful for surveillance or enfeeblement. With regard to ‘random’ violence the problem I see is that we (even the schools) have come to view morality as a cost-benefit calculation, as advocated by Bentham and Rousseau. Such a view of morality puts almost every action in a gray area where it can be rationalized. Instead we need to return to the Judeo-Christian morality of hard moral rules. I would add that the high quantity of gratuitous violence and cruelty in movies and videogames sends a message to kids that parents don’t find such violence repulsive.

  34. BethH8 months ago

    Interesting Article,

    It’s not a fair comparison, really, to rank Chicago or LA or NYC with cities like Detroit, where the socio-economic population is far less diversified than those other cities. Since Detroit is significantly less populated than Chicago, it would be a more fair comparison to rank the Southside with Detroit – if we really want apples to apples. Wonder what the per capita murder stats would tell then?

  35. Tad Wainwright8 months ago

    This article is the epitome of what enrages Chicagoans. This is the very type of tone-deaf spin that that Emanuel employs. We are not upset because we have the greatest total number of murders and we are not pleased to see when adjusted for rate we are actually nowhere near the top. We are not angry because we are the “Murder Capitol”, and we are not filled with joy to find out that technically we aren’t the “Murder Capitol.”

    Regardless of rate, our city has too many murders, period. Many of these murders are concentrated in neighborhoods on the west and south sides. The condescending tone of the article and of Mayor Emanuel suggests that we are irrational. Telling me I should be happy that homicides are decreasing when there have already been 6 in my neighborhood this year instead of 7 last year is sickening.

    1. BethH8 months ago

      Agreed. One murder is too many.

  36. Tad Wainwright8 months ago

    Red states have the highest poverty rates. Would you agree that that is an indictment of Republican policies?


    Republicans would not solve the problem of urban poverty if elected as mayors.

    Democrats and Republicans are BOTH part of the problem.

  37. Mark8 months ago

    This is more figured lie, Kiera figure. Sure Chicago has a high population but the murders are not occurring in the suburbs. Do the analysis using the population where the murders are occurring and the numbers will tell a different story. The murders are in a concentrated area of Chicago. The analysis in this report is just the type designed to mask a real problem and it serves no good.

  38. Fastcan8 months ago

    This is a PR stunt orchestrated by our politically very well connected mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel. Sensing that the ever increasing crime spree in Chicago is going to make the front page of every news, Rambo decided to use his political clout (may even have called the WH) and forced some research analysts come up with a simple “smokescreen” crime statistic data to ward off any concerns about crime cesspool in Chicago. This is a perfect example of how “big data” can be used, manipulated and concocted into some sort of semi meaningful information to brainwash the general populace. Uneducated approach to reading this useless data makes the user feel warm and fuzzy and even makes them say “well look at that Chicago is not that bad at all…” Garbage in-garbage out! I live in Chicago and let me tell you the crime rate is climbing on an alarming rate. The combination of economic distress, under-employment, lack of education in the poor teen pool, gangs, drugs, degrading family values and culture, lack of true leadership, poverty and total lack of social support mechanism will collapse the badly managed American Metropolises in the next decade.

  39. HK8 months ago

    Its interesting to note that all cities mentioned were and are being run by democrats and have been for many years………..some are bankrupt as a result and most others are close to that point………
    all of them also have some of the most restrictive gun laws …..
    have you ever wondered why?

    1. pbrower2a18 months ago

      Few giant cities are run by Republicans.

      Usual explanations:

      low educational achievement
      urban crowding
      general economic distress
      gang activity
      perverse mass culture

      Do the Republicans have any solutions for these? Little more than cut wages, shift tax burdens from the rich to the non-rich, gut or sell off the public sector, start was for profit…

  40. Franklin Graham8 months ago

    You are comparing apples and oranges. Article is nonsense.

  41. rob earl8 months ago

    So, Chicago ought to feel good it’s not at the very bottom of the barrel when it comes to murder?

    Sorry, but this article seems entirely designed to perform a little positive PR for the windy city that it doesn’t deserve. A “well it’s not as bad as …” is unhelpful, particularly if you live in or visit Chicago. The city has a serious crime problem and looking at other crime-plagued cities won’t make it go away.

    1. pbrower2a18 months ago

      Chicago has some wonderful urban neighborhoods as well as some infamous slums. The worst parts of Chicago are much like the worst parts of Detroit. The best parts of Chicago are more like Detroit suburbs which aren’t that bad.

    2. Mike7 months ago

      No, I think the point of the article is to point out that the media has over-reported this issue, to the point of hysteria.

      I’ve lived here since the late 80’s, and if there was ever a time to be nervous about murder in the city it was the early 90’s, when twice the number of people were being murdered every year.

      PR or not, the article is stating facts from the FBI. Why is it so easy to believe bad news but impossible to believe the bad news makes a better story and is reported over and over?

      Yes, it is sickening that our residents are living with hell, and we need to concentrate our efforts to alleviate the problem, but finger pointing and calling people liars does nothing except help the people doing so to feel better about themselves. They “care” more, so everyone’s a liar and our politicians NEED TO GO, right?

  42. Chris Pine8 months ago

    The graphic presented by Diana Yoo is misleading, as it creates an image of false increase slopes and declines, as if there is a regular increase and decrease in murders committed over the course of a reporting year. You can only compare discrete statements based on reporting dates – that is, the date the statistic is issued. New Orleans, for example, may have a big concentration of murders centered around Fat Tuesday, whereas Washington’s murder rate may center around Congressional breaks….

    1. Diana Yoo8 months ago

      Hi Chris, thank you for your comment. While you are correct that each city’s murder rate may vary from month to month, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting database only reports this rate by year, so there is only a single number calculated from the total number of murders committed throughout the year.
      Because the charts above consistently use this yearly rate, the slope of the lines are accurate based on the change in the reported rate from year to year.

    2. pbrower2a18 months ago

      One year (1995) had Oklahoma City at the top due to the mass murder in which Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Federal Building. 168 murders in one act was a horrible blip upon the norm in Oklahoma City. That may have been discounted to one murderous act for statistical purposes.

  43. Jim Fulton8 months ago

    Chicago has several gangs with membership higher than the total population of some of the smaller cities. Poverty, lack of jobs, and gang rivalry are the predominant causes of violence and crime. Do not go out to dangerous neighborhoods after dark the likelihood of being a victim are minable.

  44. Bob8 months ago

    Interesting article. Not sure international comparisons can be made but for discussion I note that London, with a larger multicultural unequal society had a murder rate in 2013 of 1 per 100,000( compared to Chicago’s 18.5).Statistics show that the percentage of homicides by firearms was 60% in the US and 6.6% in England and Wales. Firearm ownership per 100 people is 88.8 in the US, in England and Wales it is 6.6.

  45. HENRY SCHROEDER8 months ago



  46. Chaplain Martin8 months ago

    A nice follow up would be to look at high murder rate cities that have reduced the number of murders in the last five years. Do a study on these to attempt to determine the possible reasons that the rate has dropped.

    1. Qkirk8 months ago

      very good point

  47. Gregory8 months ago

    That’s because they’ve never been to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is the capital of Louisiana and about an hour from New Orleans. People moved from New Orleans that gave it the murder capital title to Baton Rouge post-Katrina, and skyrocketed the homicide rate. It is also why i decided to move…..

    1. John6 months ago

      Really tho

  48. john galt8 months ago


    1. Mike8 months ago

      AND, the data indicates, several of the most violent states are firmly under the control of Republican politicians.

      According to one study done in 2013 based on ten criteria these are the top ten U.S. states for gun violence:

      1. Louisiana
      2. Alaska
      3. Alabama
      4. Arizona
      5. Mississippi
      6. South Carolina
      7. New Mexico
      8. Missouri
      9. Arkansas
      10. Georgia

      In 2013 these were the top ten states with the most violent crimes per 100,000 residents:

      1. Tennessee
      2. Nevada
      3. Alaska
      4. New Mexico
      5. South Carolina
      6. Delaware
      7. Louisiana
      8. Florida
      9. Maryland
      10. Oklahoma

      1. Qkirk8 months ago

        what is the value of the NRA to the Republican party? I don’t understand the moral need to own a gun.

        1. jykelly8 months ago

          Don’t buy one, then.. Really simple…

      2. Jason8 months ago

        But, Mike, am I correct in assuming that most governors don’t see to the day-to-day management of their state’s towns and cities? My understanding is that most counties and townships enact and enforce their own sets of local codes; and state legislatures deal primarily with issuing laws for the purpose of standardizing important, statewide policy matters (e.g., traffic laws, taxation, etc.). State governors and legislators tend to paint in broad strokes while local mayors, commissioners, and their agents deal more directly when it comes to governing citizens in a political community.

        So-called “red states” with liberal gun laws may indeed have higher rates of gun violence, but in what counties and cities are those rates especially high? Georgie, for example, is a red state; but not all of Georgia is equally violent. A “red” community like Cumming, GA, had an average murder rate that was nearly four times lower than a “blue” community like Atlanta, GA, between the years 2002-2012.

        1. James in Wauwatosa7 months ago

          Jason, the fact is red states ran by republican politicians (not only governors) are more crime ridden compared to blue states. Even outside of the major cities in the South, there’s still a lot of crime. You can make an excuse about the state not having an influence on local politics but those same factors can affect blue states too….and you still have to come up with an explanation why they’re safer

    2. James M.+Calhoun8 months ago

      I agree.

    3. jsb8 months ago

      and what will the Republicans in office do to fix this?

    4. LexR8 months ago

      Maybe there will be a “change” when Republicans start caring about poor people.

      1. slk8 months ago

        when no one is allowed to have a gun, only criminals will have them!!! do the math!!! rohm will not be reelected!!!

        1. Ryan Phelan8 months ago

          Rahm will be reelected easily.. you must not know much about Chicago

  49. truthseeker8 months ago

    Thank you for adding the voice of truth to the cacaphony. I have well-meaning, but poorly informed and emotional, friends on both sides of the firearms ownership and control debate. Your truths about the rate of gun homicides are quite revealing as is your article about the overstatements regarding “school shootings” and “mass shootings”. Please keep up the good work. Our nation must not accept legislation based on hysteria and what some people regard as “common sense”, which of course is just that, common. Public policy making is a complex art that requires educated lawmakers with a deep respect for cause and effect, not hunches and fear.

  50. MCon8 months ago

    On a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, Chicago has 7 (out of a total of 77) communities with rates above the flint 62/100k rate, many with over 30,000 residents each. 19 of 77 are below the national average of 4.2.


    1. Mike8 months ago

      In the link provided, the homicide data for Chicago is from 2012, a year in which homicides spiked to some extent. Chicago had 435 homicides in 2011, 516 homicides in 2112, and 415 homicides in 2013.

      In 2012, the year profiled in the link, Chicago had the highest number of homicides since 2003. The number of homicides in Chicago has been on a down trend since 1992.

      1. Mike8 months ago

        Regarding the number of homicides in Chicago for the year 2013.

        The Chicago Police Department official number was 415, that may change. The FBI has not yet released it’s official homicide statistics for 2013.

        The Chicago Tribune figure of 440 Chicago homicides in 2015, noted in the above article, is not from official police data.

        Chicago Magazine in it’s ‘Special Report’ titled “Dead Wrong” found by it’s reckoning the Chicago homicide count was, at least 432 for 2013

        Official figures for the number of Chicago homicides is also available from the Office of the Cook County Medical Examiner.

        1. Mike8 months ago

          Correction: Chicago Tribune figure is 440 homicides for 2013 NOT 2015.

    2. truthseeker8 months ago

      Thanks for the further detail. I am guessing that the nature of the culture in those neighborhoods, differences driven by poverty, education, gangs, and both real and perceived lack of opportunity are very highly correlated with the differences in gun violence.

    3. jsb8 months ago

      Thank you for that breakdown. That’s the real problem here in Chicago. Some neighborhoods indeed have substantially higher murder rates than higher crime rated cities.

      1. guy8 months ago

        And it could be further broken down by block and even building and perhaps even by family. City stats should suffice for all real purposes, nothing gets done about any of it anyway.

  51. DRPECON8 months ago

    Would like to see the international data comparisons.

    1. Mike8 months ago

      World cities ranked by homicides can be found on the internet if you do a search. Many of the world’s most violent cities are in Central and South America.

    2. Matt8 months ago

      I live in Toronto, Canada. According to the Toronto Police web site, so far in 2014 we’ve had 23 murders. Last year we had a total of 57. Toronto has roughly the same population as Chicago, around 2.7 million.

      1. slk8 months ago

        chicago is run by liberal socialists, toronto isn’t, but they don’t care!!! they’re going to make it work, no matter how many shootings they don’t “media” report!!!