Public Safety

How are we doing?

The Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had a rate of 496.4 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016. This ranked Tucson ninth among 12 western MSAs.  Portland had the lowest rate of violent crimes per 100,000 residents (276.1) and Albuquerque had the highest (901.0). Las Vegas and San Diego experienced a decrease in the rate of violent crimes per 100,000 residents between 2015 and 2016. All other MSAs posted an increase in the rate of violent crime per 100,000 residents between 2015 and 2016.

Why is it important?

Crime rates have important social and economic implications for the development of communities, especially at the neighborhood level. They can impact perceptions of resident safety and community involvement, and consequently population dynamics of a region. High crime rates can also lead to gentrification as geographically mobile households relocate to improve perceptions of safety and neighborhood satisfaction. Increased social involvement and community engagement by residents have been linked to reduced crime rates and consequently improved citizen quality of life.

How do we compare?

The Tucson MSA posted a substantial decrease in the violent crime rate between 2005 (649.7) and 2010 (425.6), at which point rates ticked up slightly to 476.9 per 100,000 residents in 2012.  Between 2012 and 2015 violent crimes rates in Tucson fell to below 2010 levels (421.4). In 2016 Tucson again experienced a slight rate increase (496.4). Arizona posted its highest violent crime rate in 2006 (542.6).  Rates then began to decline.  The state posted its lowest violent crime rate in 2014 (399.9) after which it began to experience an increase in both 2015 (410.2) and 2016 (470.1). The crime rate in the U.S. followed a similar pattern during the same time period, with the high in 2006 (469.0), the low in 2014 (361.6) and an increase in 2015 to 373.7 and in 2016 to 386.3 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.  

How is it measured?

Violent and property crime data are from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting System (UCR), which collect crime statistics from law enforcement agencies nationwide. The FBI publishes UCR statistics annually. Several key limitations of the data result from differences in collection methods at the local level. Accordingly, violent and property crimes levels have been scaled to population levels, so as to compute a rate comparable across geographies.