D.C. no longer in top ten most dangerous cities in America

A Washington DC LandscapeAccording to Forbes’ 2012 list of America’s most dangerous cities, which was released last Thursday, Washington, D.C. is no longer among the top ten most dangerous cities in America. The list, which was created by ranking cities with populations over 200,000 by their violent crime rates, now places D.C. as the 16th most dangerous city in America.

Another Forbes article specifically examined the crime statistics for D.C., and offered some possible explanations for the city’s steady improvement over the past several years.

“The nation’s capital actually came in 16th this year with a violent crime rate of 1,130 per 100,000 population, a little more than half the rate in Detroit and significantly below smaller cities like New Haven, Connecticut and Little Rock, Arkansas,” the article read.

Just last year, D.C. had a murder rate of 17 per 100,000 population, and 2012 will likely be slightly better.

The Forbes article credits the change to “gentrification, tax breaks, and urban reforms”, much of which has come due to expansion of the federal government, leading to an influx of wealthier government workers.

“Gentrification can be a brutal process for the residents who are priced out of their neighborhoods,” Forbes recognizes. But their source of information, John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute who also teaches criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, claims that most recent urban development in D.C. has not come at the cost of driving away many poor city residents. Instead, Roman argues the city’s changes have altered “the nature of the place,” as opposed to the people living in it.

Even so, Forbes goes on to recognize that this process was not perfect, and some urban poor were pushed out “to suburbs like Prince George’s County, where the violent crime rates spiked a few years ago, but have since declined substantially.”

While the improvements to D.C. are certainly real, it is important not to overestimate the level of success the city has achieved. As the Voice Editorial Board said earlier in February, the Metropolitan Police Department is not above boosting its image through manipulation of statistics.

Photo by Flickr user Rob Shenk through Creative Commons

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