St. Louis is Nation's Murder Capital
For the third straight year, St. Louis, Missouri -- the metro hub of the county roiled in 2014 by the police's shooting of Brown, an 18-year-old convenience-store robber -- had the nation's highest murder rate.
Baltimore, New Orleans, and Detroit all tallied murder rates rivaling St. Louis’s rate, but none exceeded it.
Chicago, the focus of much of the media attention after posting 762 murders by year’s end, came in 8th place. (The county coroner, as AMI Newswire reported last week, tallied 50 more killings than police in Chicago).
If each city were as large as Chicago, all of the top four would have exceeded 1000 killings. St. Louis would have tallied 1620 murders, Baltimore 1391, New Orleans 1229, and Detroit 1213 murders in 2016.
After the social unrest and protests linked to the police killings of several unarmed black men in recent years, violent crime has climbed in America’s largest cities.
Named after the city near St. Louis where Brown was shot, the so-called “Ferguson Effect” theory argues that crime has increased, in part, because the protests have resulted in less aggressive policing.
While all violent crime is up, murder has spiked precipitously in America’s cities, especially those the FBI lists as Category I or cities with populations over 250,000 residents.
Although Chicago had the highest total number of murders (762), St. Louis had almost double the per capita murder rate (59.6 per 100,000 residents).
St. Louis, 2016’s murder capital, recorded the same murder rate as the year before, with 188 murders both in 2015 and in 2016.
While not uniform, the average increase in all Category I cities amounts to an 11.3 percent increase for the 73 largest cities where data was available. That is a historically high rate of increase, although not as high as the murder-rate spike of 14.8 percent between 2014 and 2015.
According to the preliminary 2016 data released by the FBI for the first half of 2016, murder increased 5.2 percent nationally but rose 21.6 percent in cities over one million residents.
For smaller cities, the rate increase was smaller: +2.3 percent for cities between one half a million and 1 million residents, and +6.1 percent for cities between a quarter million and half a million residents.
The two-year trend (2014-2016) is undoing some of the progress made when murder rates declined steadily for two decades.
A St. Louis police spokeswoman offered little hope that the death toll would decline in the future, telling the River Front Times, that homicides are "a crime that is difficult to predict and prevent."