Is Lowell the 18th most dangerous city in America?

Is Lowell the 18th most dangerous city in America? It is according to this article (which is the subject of a vigorous Facebook discussion right now) on the website Business Insider. Purportedly based on the latest FBI statistics, “The cities on this list are ranked by violent crimes including murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, per 100,000 people.” Here’s the list:

1. Flint, MI
2. Detroit, MI
3. St Louis, MO
4. New Haven, CT
5. Memphis, TN
6. Oakland, CA
7. Little Rock, Arkansas
8. Baltimore, MD
9. Rockford, IL
10. Stockton, CA
11. Buffalo, NY
12. Springfield, MA
13. Cleveland, OH
14. Hartford, CT
15. Washington, Dc
16. Springfield, IL
17. Philadelphia, PA
18. Lowell, MA
19. Richmond, CA
20. St Petersburg, FL
21. Nashville, TN
22. Kansas City, MO
23. Miami, Florida
24. Lansing, Michigan
25. Elizabeth, New Jersey

I’ve never been to this website before, but a quick scan doesn’t suggest it’s overly ideological, one way or another. Part of the problem for our city is that the cut off for inclusion is to have more than 100,00 residents which Lowell does but which many other places that might be more “dangerous” do not. As for my own subjective view, if we had landed on high on the list of cities most likely to have your house or car broken into, I might give the list a bit more credibility, but the crimes measured in this study – murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault – are certainly with us on a daily basis, but can the incidence of them occurring really be so much higher in this city than in so many others? I kind of doubt that.

21 Responses to Is Lowell the 18th most dangerous city in America?

  1. Deb Forgione says:

    I hope we can get more information on this. The fact that it was published and now part of internet history I think we have to see how this happened. June 2nd starts a planning session with all the neighborhoods, the Lowell Police and the City to implement “Lights on Crime off”…simple steps to prevent crimes. Lighted streets and property with aware residents in thier neighborhoods will help curb property crime while the Lowell Police are working all over the City. We can participate, but it would be good to have it back up to 260, just my opinion.

  2. kad barma says:

    I look at our position on this list to be a positive reflection of our Police Department’s professionalism and data-driven crime prevention efforts. Unlike many municipalities where domestic and other assault incidents are often swept under the rug to save paperwork or what have you, my impression is that these crimes are given strong attention and meaningful response here in Lowell, as they should. Yes, this may cause our numbers to look higher in comparison, but from a person-on-the-street perspective, the overall result is far safer. (I think this is why we all see these statistics and disbelieve them–we know our streets are relatively safer than many of these other cities we visit).

  3. Corey says:

    As I was going on about on Facebook, we often come up as a major city for Aggravated Assault. Dick, you’re the lawyer, what exactly does that mean? It looks like it can mean “assault with a dangerous weapon” which, from reading the police log in the paper, Lowell will charge for a “shod foot”. Murder on the other hand, we are well below other er… safer … cities like New Orleans or even Boston on. You can’t spin murder too many ways to play with numbers. Either our gang members have the worst aim in the world, or we are likely to be reporting more crimes and charging people with more severe things than many other people. How “Universal” is “Universal” crime reporting anyhow?

  4. Corey says:

    Dean – The list excludes all cities under 100,000 residents. That’s Camden, Lawrence, and Gary, IN for example. Also, unfortunate as it is, Lowell is a considerably more violent city than Lawrence according to any statistics I’ve ever seen, in many categories.

    Again, from Facebook:

    ” Also, to continue the rationalization, per there are only 275 cities in America with 100,000 residents or more. So, your odds are 1 in 11 you’ll be on this list. Furthermore, take population density into account and you’ll find that Lowell is the 29th densest city with over 100,000 citizens in the nation. There’s no way to arbitrarily remove massive low-density middle-class suburbs from the contender list (especially when violent Little Rock, AR is less dense of a city than Billerica!), but the concept I feel is valid – places like Henderson, NV are not cities.

    Also, I would like to point out they used Canal Place for their “Scary Place” photo. Watch out for Puggle owners, they’ll get you.”

  5. Joe S says:

    Apparently these data are not only “per 100,000” but also for cities of at least 100,000 population. If that is so, Lawrence is excluded by being too small.

    There may be another factor that pushes Lowell up the list, and that is how near the 100,000 threshold the city is. Therefore, whatever crimes are reported translates to these numbers (actually, slighty reduced inasmuch as the city had a population of about 104,000 when the data were assimilated. But, let’s look at the crime rate per square mile instead of per popiulation. Let’s say that Lowell had the same crime numbers as a city of the same area, but twice the population. That city would then show half the numbers as Lowell when using the 100,000 population figure, but the same had area been used. So since we live in neighborhoods of square miles, that may be why Lowell feels safe despite the reported numbers.

    Unfortunately, no matter how we feel, this type of report will feed the perception in the outside world, and therefore it is important that we do all that we can to reduce the numbers.

  6. Joan H says:

    I have a scanner and I have never heard so many domestic calls , assaults and calls about possible guns /other weapons as I have this year. I believe that a lot of it can be attributed to our diverse population and the socio-economic status of many of our residents. The police department is understaffed and spends more time being reactive , when more officers would lead to a better pro-active force. All in all the police dept does the best it can with it’s recources.

  7. Dean says:

    I have been to seventeen of these cities in my life time and never had a problem. Oh, I lost my wallet in Washington,D.C. , it was found and sent to me with all my paper work intact.

  8. Arthur says:

    The City was wise to adopt a new marketing slogan . The old one { There’s a lot to like about Lowell } was an anagram for ” We’ll rob thee / steal auto / kill too “- rather too much truth in advertising just now .

  9. C R Krieger says:

    A relative who was raised in Rockford IL, Number 9 on the list, said, “Looks like a map of post-industrial post-union America.  A lot of uneducated guys from working class families that used to make decent wages.  Now they don’t have much to look forward to.”

    Is it all about jobs?  Actually, I don’t think so.  Johnstown, PA, held down crime when the unemployment rate was 25%, give or take.  I think it is about instilling “values”, but also having a hope for the future, a future that includes employment.  You can’t have low crime rates without both.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  10. DickH says:

    Massachusetts doesn’t have a crime of “aggravated assault” so I have no idea what they include in that category. And that’s one of the problems the occurs when the media (or anyone else) gives a synopsis of some fact-based report without explaining the choices made by those who gathered the facts. Without that info to put it all in context, the statistics, which carry the indicia of reliability because they’re “facts” are really just opinions used to promote, purposefully or not, the point of view of the author.

    Echoing the comments above about the professionalism of the Lowell PD, I suspect our city has been penalized because we keep good and accurate data. That’s probably not universally the case.

    All that said, spending a few nights listening to the police radio is enlightening: Lots of domestic disputes with a spattering of robberies and “shots fired” which, given the listening sample size, is enough to indicate that there’s a percolating problem that’s not getting the attention it deserves from decision makers and the public at large.

  11. Steve says:

    So Miami is safer than Lowell? In that case I’ll be looking forward to the new show
    Lowell Vice.

  12. Corey says:

    KMarcin – precisely. Statistics can cause as much harm as they do good, hence the warning. In this case, there are just too many unknowns to say these numbers are “fair”. I had seen what the FBI says aggravated assault is, and, as Dick says, we don’t have a straight analog. If a bar fight is a bar fight in Texas and is “assault with a deadly weapon (a stool)” in Lowell, well, we’re going to look worse than we are.

  13. Mr. Lynne says:

    15 to 20 years ago, I seem to remember Lawrence making #2 in auto theft. As such, that wouldn’t matter on this list since except for car-jacking, it’s not a violent crime. Crime overall vs. violent crime is a distinction that could greatly vary from place to place leading to counter intuitive understandings about relative crime.

  14. Yootch says:

    This is ranking is bullshit, Lowell was bad years ago and its got a lot better ever since than. Lowell has a strong police force and the crime decreased over the years, look at the crime rate on home facts compared to a lot of cities in MA. According to the ranking Lowell, MA is more dangerous to Miami, FL, I completely beg to differ. I am originally from Miami, FL when came to the States but I lived in Lowell most of my life. I will tell you this Miami is a lot worse than Lowell by a long shot. Florida is typically ranked as a dangerous state as well, Miami was a former murder capital of the country and a lot more shit goes down over there than Lowell. Still Miami is one of the top dangerous cities today. Even though I’m from both Lowell and Miami, I can tell you Lowell is a lot safer and nicer than Miami.

  15. Yootch says:

    And Lowell is a lot safer than Lawrence and Lynn combined, look it up on and that site don’t really lie.

  16. John says:

    Lowell Ma. Is a great city with all the problems of any major metropolitan area. Lowell also has a drug problem that proceeds it’s crime issues. Drug problem = crime problem. If there’s adequate treatment for the obvious drug abuse issues the crime stats WILL GO DOWN. That’s not if, that’s will. ……one goes hand in hand with the other. Lowell. Lawrence, Haverhill ect. ….get hold of the drug problem and the crime will go down. All the cities on the list for high crime in Massachusetts have huge drug problems, specifically HEROIN. BROCKTON. WORCESTER, SPRINGFIELD, NEW BEDFORD, FALL RIVER LOWELL, LAWRENCE AND OF COURSE BOSTON HAVE SOME OF THE WORST HEROIN PROBLEMS IN AMERICA. …..AND THE CRIME WILL FOLLOW. ..

  17. Anonymous says:

    Lowell is what you make it. It’s tough but has a lot of good solid people so I’m saying it’s all good.

  18. jay says:

    Certainly feels much, much safer than it did in the 80’s & 90’s. Also feels like gang violence is no where near as bad as it used to be. Drugs remain a major problem.