Jackson's crime rate put Mississippi's capital city at the No. 23 spot of 385 U.S. cities, according to "City Crime Rankings, 2008-2009," released by the CQ Press earlier this month. The city's ranking puts it in a better light than New Orleans, which had the highest crime rate, followed by Camden, N.J., Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Calif., and 17 other U.S. cities.
CQ Press is a division of SAGE Publications in Washington, D.C., and it produced the rankings using the FBI's "Crime in the United States," which the bureau makes available every fall for the previous year, based on its Uniform Crime Reporting program.
UCR numbers, the FBI states, represent 94.6 percent of the U.S. population, with more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies voluntarily providing their crime figures for violent crimes (murder-manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) and property crimes (burglary, larceny-theft, motor-vehicle theft and arson). "City Crime Rankings" represents a composite summary of the crimes reported.
In 2007, No. 1 ranked New Orleans reported 209 murders, 72 rapes, 1,015 robberies and 1,457 aggravated assaults. In contrast, Jackson reported 46 murders, 141 rapes, 862 robberies and 463 aggravated assaults. Jackson's crime ranking belies its relatively small population of approximately 175,000, with comparable cities like Brownsville, Texas, coming in at 275 of 385, and Ontario, Calif., at 186 of 385. The U.S. Census estimated New Orleans' 2007 population at approximately 239,000.
Rounding out the top 10 cities with the highest crime rates in the country are Flint, Mich.; Gary, Ind.; Birmingham, Ala.; Richmond, Calif.; and North Charleston, S.C. Another four southern cities had a higher crime rate than Jackson: Memphis, Tenn. (No. 14), Atlanta (No. 16), Orlando, Fla. (No. 18) and Little Rock, Ark. (No. 19).
At the other end of the spectrum, the city with the lowest crime rate was Ramapo, N.Y., which reported 64 violent crimes in 2007 (0 murders, 1 rape, 13 robberies and 50 aggravated assaults), followed by Mission Viejo, Calif.; O'Fallon, Mo.; Newton, Mass.; and Brick Township, N.J.
The Jackson metropolitan area, which includes Copiah, Hinds, Madison, Rankin and Simpson counties, ranked 112 out of 338 metropolitan areas. The metro with the highest crime rate was Pine Bluff, Ark., followed by Memphis (which includes parts of Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas), New Orleans, Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., and Sumter, S.C.