Public Safety

Pinpoint Shadow  Read About Statistics on Public Safety in Tucson, Arizona MSA

How are we doing?

The Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had a rate of 473.5 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2020. That was slightly fewer violent crimes per 100,000 residents than the state total of 484.8. Arizona had the second-highest rate of violent crimes per capita when compared to the western states. New Mexico had the highest rate at 778.3, while Idaho had the lowest rate of violent crimes per 100,000 residents at 242.6. Of the violent crime data available at the MSA level, Tucson’s rates were comparable to Las Vegas and Colorado Springs. A breakdown of violent crime by type is available at the MSA level and can be found on the Comparison Page.

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 quality of life.

How do we compare?

Tucson's rate of homicide per 100,000 residents of 6.7 was the fifth-highest among peer western MSAs in 2021. That was an improvement from 2020 when Tucson had the fourth-highest rate. San Diego had the lowest rate at 2.9 while Albuquerque had the highest at 10.9. These data come from the National Center for Health Statistics - Mortality Files and include the number of deaths due to homicide per 100,000 residents between 2015 and 2021.

Tucson had a high rate of deaths due to firearms per 100,000 residents when compared to peer western MSAs in 2021. Tucson's rate of 19.1 placed it 10th among peers. San Diego had the lowest rate of firearm fatalities at 6.7 while Albuquerque had the highest at 23.8. These data come from the National Center for Health Statistics - Mortality Files. Gun violence is one of the leading contributors to premature death in the United States. Firearm fatalities include both suicides and homicides. 

Property crime occurs at a much higher rate than violent crime in all MAP Dashboard geographies. Tucson had the 11th lowest rate of motor vehicle theft among the 12 western MSAs in 2020, the third-highest rate of larceny among the peer group, and the third-lowest rate of burglary. Albuquerque had the highest rate of burglary of the MSAs that reported data.  (Click on and off geographies in the legend to filter the chart below.)

What are the key trends?

Tucson’s violent crime rate fell by 27.1% from a high of 649.7 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2005 to 473.5 in 2020. This is down from Tucson’s violent crime rate of 499.0 in 2017, which was a peak after a thirteen-year low in 2015. Arizona’s violent crime rate followed a similar pattern to Tucson, decreasing by 21.9% between 2005 and 2014, but then subsequently increasing back to its 2005 level. The violent crime rate in the U.S. has generally declined since 2006, with a slight uptick in crime since 2014. Another notable trend is diverging crime rates in southern border cities Tucson, El Paso, and San Diego (see the trend chart with all geographies on the Comparison Page). While all three border cities had comparable levels of violent crime in 2009, only Tucson saw an increased violent crime rate since that time; both El Paso and San Diego have experienced significant rate declines (around 21% each).   

How is it measured?

Violent and property crime data are from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting System (UCR), which collects 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. For example, the FBI began collecting data for forcible rape under an expanded, revised definition in 2013. State-level violent crime rates are measured using the revised definition; however, the total U.S. violent crime rate still uses the legacy definition of rape to maintain 20-year trend reporting. Accordingly, violent and property crime levels have been scaled to population levels, so as to compute a rate comparable across geographies.

Data on homicide and firearm fatality rates come from the County Health Rankings, which compiles data from multiple sources on a variety of topics. The homicide and firearm data are specifically from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) - Mortality Files. Mortality data from the NCHS is produced by NCHS and each state's vital statistics office. Death registration is based on state law; death certificates are filed and maintained in each state's vital statistics office.