By Charlotte Rene Woods
Capital News Service
Richmond had one of the highest murder rates last year among mid-size U.S. cities, according to an analysis of local and federal data.
Richmond, which has about 223,000 residents, had 59 murders and non-negligent manslaughter deaths last year, according to the Richmond Police Department. That equates to a rate of 26.4 homicides per 100,000 population.
In terms of its murder rate, that puts Richmond near the top among the 236 cities that have populations between 100,000 and 300,000 and were included in the FBI’s most recent Uniform Crime Report.
Only five of those cities had a murder rate higher than Richmond’s in 2016, the analysis found. One was Orlando, Florida, whose rate was inflated because of the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016.
Each year the FBI releases crime data reported by local and state police departments. However, Richmond’s data was missing from the most recent FBI report due to delay in correcting an error from June 2016.
Capital News Service obtained the year-end data from the Richmond Police Department, integrated it into the FBI statistics and calculated crime rates to compare Richmond against similar-sized cities and examine what has changed since the 2015 FBI report.
The FBI tabulates violent crimes (which it defines as murder or non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) and property crimes (burglary, larceny theft and motor vehicle theft).
In comparison to 2015, Richmond’s overall violent crime rate increased nearly 30 percent. Not only did the number of homicides jump from 43 to 59, but rapes went from 60 to 143.
Property crimes in Richmond increased by 5 percent. Although the number of burglaries dropped, thefts were up – with car thefts rising 44 percent.
The two U.S. cities with populations closest to the size of Richmond are Boise, Idaho, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Boise, with just over 220,000 residents, had six murders in 2016; Baton Rouge, with more than 228,000 residents, had 47 murders.
However, Richmond compared more favorably in overall violent crime rates. Richmond had 654 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Baton Rouge had 938 violent crimes per 100,000 population – because it had far more aggravated assaults and robberies than Richmond.
Boise reported 298 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. However, it had the same number of rapes as Richmond – 143.
Baton Rouge had a higher property crime rate than Richmond (4,350 property crimes per 100,000 population, vs. 4,084). Boise’s property crime rate was 2,326 offenses per 100,000 residents.
Richmond is not alone in seeing an increase in violent crime. Nationally, the FBI reported an increase in violent crimes for the second year in a row.
The data used in this report can be found here.