Public Safety

How are we doing?

The Tucson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had a rate of 421.4 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2015. This ranked Tucson eighth among 11 western MSAs, Portland did not report data for 2015.  Of the eleven MSAs reporting data Austin had the lowest rate of violent crimes per 100,000 residents (287.7) and the Las Vegas had the highest (815.0). Austin, El Paso, and Colorado Springs experienced a decrease in the rate of violent crimes per 100,000 residents between 2014 and 2015. While Tucson and Phoenix experienced a decrease between 2013 and 2015, as neither MSA reported data for 2014. All other MSAs posted an increase in the rate of violent crime per 100,000 residents between 2014 and 2015.

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). 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 experienced a slight increase (410.2) in 2015. 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 a slight uptick in 2015 to 372.6 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.