Several Local Communities Among America's Most Dangerous Cities
A lot of people- including some at this very news site- whine about how tough Barnstable is. They'll try to tell you how Barnstable (population = 47,000, 2.7% black) is being overrun by Crips. They'll try to compare it to seriously dangerous places like Brockton (some people call Barnstable "Brockton-by-the-sea," and Wareham is known as "Coastal Lynn" or "Baby New Bedford"). Barnstable does have a respectable (to a felon) crime rate, but is Barnstable a Troo Playa?
Now, we can find out. The good people at NeighborhoodScout have listed the Top 100 Dangerous Cities in America. These rankings were determined by Crime Rate, apply to any city with over 25,000 people, and are filled with all sorts of fun facts. It also paints a very dreary picture of Southeastern Massachusetts.
Let's answer the most popular question first. The most dangerous place in America (based on 2010 crime rates) is Saginaw, Michigan. The Barnstable-sized Saginaw, once a booming lumber and industrial city of 50,000 people, has been the top crime spot since 2003. You have a 1 in 32 person chance of being murdered, raped, battered, or armed-robbed in Saginaw.
I forgot to look up their racial makeup, as I tend to look at the per capita income before other factors. Give me a town full of Crips who own Fortune 500 businesses, and I'll give you a low-crime area.
Michigan owns this chart, with Pontiac ranking #11, Detroit slumping to #14, Flint at #17, and towns like Inkster or Battle Creek (most violent crime here involves people going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and stuff) also getting into the mix.
#2 is Chester, Pennsylvania... which would be gallows-funny were it populated entirely by child molesters (I'm reminded of the Gary Trudeau joke about the fictional town of Chamberlain, Pennsylvania, populated entirely by 7 foot black kids who looked like former LA Laker ladykiller Wilt Chamberlain). #4 is West Memphis... West Memphis, Arkansas, that is. Spartanburg, South Carolina at #8 is notable in that their residents are killed 300 at a time. Bossier City (#18) was described by a Louisiana friend of mine as "where Shrerveport's white trash lives."
Massachusetts jumps into the mix with Chelsea at #19. I had several students from Chelsea, and- no joke- half of them killed somebody. Going to Chelsea gives you a 1 in 54 chance of being MARR'd (MARR = Murdered, Assaulted, Robbed, Raped... just made it up right now). Chelsea has a thriving biker trade, a 45% Hispanic population (true story...English is the second most-spoken language in Chelsea), a per capita income of $14,000, a lively rape industy, and you'd be pretty foolish if you parked your car there. It is- by far- the worst place in Massachusetts, crime-wise.
After that, Florida starts to dominate the rankings. They get six of the next 24 towns, including Orlando, Daytona, Homestead, and St. Petersburg. Then we get back to Massachusetts, and begin an ugly trend that points a finger of guilt to SE Massachusetts.
#55 is our very own New Bedford. Noo Beddy gives you a 1 in 78 chance of being MARR'd, and her port facilities are a gateway used by the local drug trade. 46% Portuguese or Cape Verdean, it is truly held back by a 9% French population (SE Massachusetts, for many reasons, has a lot of large groups of unusual minorities... Fall River is a great place to find someone from Lebanon, for some reason). Those French are devious...
#68 is Brockton. A former manufacturing powerhouse, B Rock City has fallen on hard times. I was physically afraid to teach in the high school there. You have a MARR rate of 1:81 in Brockton. The funny part is that it is really only a 20 minute drive down a country road from where I grew up in tony, peaceful Duxbury.
Not to be outdone, Fall River comes in at #76. Criminals in Fall River point out that they are responsible for more drug-pushing than New Bedford, but that doesn't help them in the ratings. The MARR there is 1:84. Again, Fall River's criminal element wants it on the Internet that they had more murders than Chelsea.
Barnstable's coastline has led to some heroic drug use
Barnstable didn't make the top 100. Her MARR rate is 1:127... not bad for the Cape, but far behind the Heavyweights. The MARR for Massachusetts as a whole is 1:219. Barnstable was held back in areas of robbery and assault, a 92% white populatation, and a relatively sky-high median income of $46,000. Barnstable's crimes-per-square-mile rate of 34 trails the Massachusetts average of 77, and can only dream of catching, say, #6 Camden, New Jersey's 760. Somehow, we actually equal the crime/square mile rate of #3 Las Vegas. Chelsea rates a 1005/sq. mile in this category, btw.
Barnstable is about as violent as Fitchburg, is half as violent as Chicopee, a third as violent as Holyoke, is twice as violent as Methuen, and she wipes the next largest city geographically- Plymouth- off the map. She trails Providence by a healthy margin, and she can just try Boston at a later date. Barnstable is also one sheriff's heart attack away from having a devious, disgraced ex-cop who ran interference for a child molester as the Head Hog in the county.
Look for Taunton to surge up in the ratings if a Wampanoag casino is placed there. That's sort of like when they run the train through your town, just for criminals. Prostitution, drug abuse, drunked-driving, robbery, larceny, organized crime, murder... you get a monkey on your back when you roll the dice on a casino. The casino could even draw away crime from Barnstable, although a thriving organized crime presence in nearby Taunton would most likely spell trouble for the B.
Otherwise... be very happy that you live somewhere safe like Barnstable. If it's too hardcore for you, move to (South) Plymouth. If that's too nuts for you, try Duxbury or Cohasset. After that, you're pretty much MARR'd if you go anywhere other than a cow town. Like Mencken, I advocate hanging on as long as possible.