By Mason Johnson
When the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports were released last year, everyone was inundated with the news as Chicago was crowned the “Murder Capital of America.” This year, things are quieter, as Chicago has failed to live up to its infamous reputation — according to its homicide rate, at least.
In 2012, Chicago was far from the top when considering the city’s homicide rate, which was 7.1 for the metropolitan area and about 18.4 when sticking strictly to the official city limits. It wasn’t the homicide rate per capita, which is the number of murders per 100,000 people, that set off alarms across the country. It was the total number of murders in Chicago in 2012, which was 500 — more than any other city in America.
In 2013, when it comes to total homicides, Chicago’s still at the top, but the number has fallen from 500 to 414. The homicide rate in 2013 was 6.4 for the metropolitan area and 15.22 for the city proper — far below the rates of many other cities.
The difference between the Chicago metropolitan area and city proper is fairly large. The metro area, which includes the surrounding suburbs, has 9,538,161 people. The city has 2,720,554.
According to the FBI, the estimated number of murders in the nation was 14,196, a 4.4 percent decrease from 2012 to 2013. Chicago saw a 17.2 decrease in homicides from 2012 to 2013. Despite the large decrease, Chicago still trails far behind the nation’s homicide rate, which is 4.5.
When ranked with other cities, a practice the FBI recommends against because it can create “misleading perceptions,” there are a few dozen large cities with worse homicide rates than Chicago’s 15.22.
Detroit’s homicide rate is highest in the nation at 45.15. New Orleans and Baltimore had similarly high rates, 41.38 and 37.42 respectively.
Chicago is still far behind the two cities larger than it. New York had a homicide rate of 3.99 and Los Angeles had a homicide rate of 6.47. Despite having three times the population of Chicago, New York had 335 total murders in 2013 — 79 fewer than Chicago.
Numbers and rankings aside, you won’t see me calling Detroit the “Murder Capital” of, well, anything. That’s an honor no city deserves.
For a better understanding of Chicago’s homicide rate and what it means, read my article from last year.