Violent Crime in Detroit and Michigan

In the following post we will explore violent crime rates in the City of Detroit and Michigan. Each rate is per 100,000 residents. In addition to the violent crime rate, this post also looks at the murder and non-negligent manslaughter and the aggravated assault rates. These are used to determine the violent crime rate. All information in the charts was obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report.

The chart below shows the violent crime rate trend for both the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan from 1985 to 2011. According to the FBI, violent crime “is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.” Forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault rates were examined in a Drawing Detroit post on Dec. 3; this post can be found here.

The data provided shows that the violent crime rate in Michigan has consistently remained less than half to a fourth of the City of Detroit’s.  While Michigan’s violent crime rate has declined since 1985, the rate in Detroit has been much more erratic and has never gone below 1,740; this was the 2004 rate. The rate has increased recently. In 2011, the violent crime rate for both Detroit and the state declined from 2010. Detroit’s rate was recorded at 2,137 and the state’s was 289.9 in 2011.

Also, please note no information was provided for Detroit for 1993 because the forcible rape rate is used to calculate the violent crime rate, and in that year the data collection methodology for the offense of forcible rape used by the State Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program did not comply with national UCR Program guidelines. While the rape rate wasn’t provided by the City of Detroit it was provided for the state by estimating national rates per 100,000 inhabitants within eight population groups and assigning the forcible rape volumes proportionally to the state.


In the slide below, the murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate for Detroit and the state are examined. According to the FBI, murder and non-negligent manslaughter is defined as “the willful (non-negligent) killing of one human being by another. The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body.”

As with the other crimes examined in this post, and the Dec. 3 post, the state’s rate remains lower than Detroit’s. The murder rate in the state shows a steady trend of leveling off. The state’s highest murder rate since 1985 was recorded at 12.2 in 1987; in 2011 it was recorded at 6.2.  The murder rate in the state began to level off in 1996 when it was recorded at 7.5.

For the City of Detroit, the murder rate dropped to 35.7 in 2008, but it has been trending upward since then. In 2011 the rate was recorded at 48.2 (this consisted of 344 murders and non-negligent homicides.  By Dec. 16, 2012 the Detroit Police Department reported 375 homicides). The highest rate recorded for the City of Detroit since the FBI began tracking the rates in 1985 was in 1987; 1987 was also the highest recorded rate for the State of Michigan as a whole in this time frame.  In 1987 the murder rate for the City of Detroit was 62.8 and for the State of Michigan it was 12.2.


The map below shows the “deadliest crimes,” which the Detroit News defines as  homicides and shootings, that have been reported in the City of Detroit since May 1, 2012. Red spots, or “hot spots” mean there have been at least three shootings nearby. From there, the color scheme means that orange/yellow is the next “hottest” area, followed by green, then purple, and then nothing. Exact addresses are not recorded on this map.


The two charts below compare the violent crime and murder rates for Detroit and four of the closest cities to Detroit in the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area (which is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau and is comprised of Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, and Wayne counties). For both the rates shown below, Detroit’s rates are the highest. For the murder rate, the city with the second highest rate is the City of Southfield; the rate was recorded at 5.6 in 2011. Detroit’s rate was recorded at 48.2. For the violent crime rate, the City of Warren ranks second behind Detroit. The violent crime rate in Detroit (2,137) is about four times higher than Warren’s (536).



The chart below shows the murder and non-negligent homicide rates for the 10 most populated cities in 2011, along with the City of Detroit (Detroit was not in the top 10). The cities are arranged according to population numbers, highest to lowest. Detroit had the highest murder rate in 2011, which was recorded at 48.2. The City of Philadelphia’s rate came in first of the top 10 most populated cities in the U.S.; its rate was recorded at 21.6. Chicago’s rate came in second of the top 10 most populated cities at 15.9. Of the top 10 most populated cities, San Diego had the lowest rate at 2.8.


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