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Chicago Still Murder Capital, Even Though Murders Dropped Last Year (As They Also Did in NYC)

Chicago-Murder-RateJust like last year, Chicago gets the dubious distinction of being dubbed “the murder capital” by the media for the highest number of homicides in 2014 of any city in the country, followed by New York City and Detroit.

But the real story is that all of the top three cities actually saw a decline in the number of murders compared to 2013—continuing trends that have been ongoing for the past decade, according to numbers compiled by The Daily Beast.

Both Chicago and New York saw a drop of seven murders—from 414 in 2013 to 407 last year in Chicago, and from 335 to 328 in New York. But in both places, the drop in murders masked a disconcerting rise in the number of shootings. In Chicago, there were 327 more people shot in 2014 than the year before, which represents an increase of 14 percent. In New York, the number of shootings rose by 100 in 2014—even as burglaries, robberies, rapes and felony assaults continued to drop.

So as the Daily Beast pointed out, the drop in actual homicides in those two cities perhaps should be credited more to the skill of medical professionals or the bad aim of gunmen than a decrease in violence last year.

But the decrease in burglaries, robberies, rapes and felony assaults in New York last year is noteworthy because last year was the first time in a decade city police weren’t employing stop-and-frisk tactics after they were declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013. So even after the judge halted a tactic the police had used more than 4 million times over the past decade, stopping mainly Black and Hispanic males, the number of serious crimes in the city still fell—a result that belies the claim by city police officials and former Mayor Mike Bloomberg that stop-and-frisk was largely responsible for the drop in crime.

While Detroit came in third in the number of murders with 304, that embattled city actually had the highest murder rate because of its shrunken population at 43.4 murders per 100,000 residents—which is 10 times greater than New York City’s murder rate. But though the rate is still high, the numbers of murders in Detroit dropped from 333 in 2013 to 304 last year, which the Daily Beast points out would be the lowest number since 1967, when 281 people were killed. 

Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston, which ranked four, five and six, all saw increases in the number of murders last year, though the rise was much more dramatic in Houston.

Los Angeles had 259 murders last year, compared to 251 in 2013. But over the longterm, the murders in the City of Angels, the nation’s second-largest city, has dropped by nearly half in the last decade, from 515 in 2oo3. However, it should be noted that the Los Angeles Times ran a story indicating that the police department had been misclassifying violent crimes, which could impact the numbers.

While the number of murders in Philadelphia rose by just one in 2014, in Houston the rise was by 21 murders—from 214 in 2013 to 239 last year.

The top 10 is rounded out by Baltimore, whose murders dropped from 239 in 2013 to 217 last year; New Orleans, where the murders fell from 156 to 150 last year—the lowest number the city has seen in 30 years; Indianapolis, which saw an increase of 10 murders from 125 in 2013 to 135 people last year—a rise of 26 percent over the last decade, belying the national trend; and Dallas, where it appears the number of murders fell from 134 to a preliminary estimate of 111 last year. 

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