Is Detroit Safe?

If you’re wondering whether Detroit is safe, the answer is complicated. While the city has made great strides in recent years, there are still areas that can be dangerous. But overall, Detroit is much safer than it used to be.

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As the largest city in the state of Michigan, Detroit is a major hub for business, culture, and tourism. However, due to its size and location, Detroit has also been plagued by crime and violence. In recent years, the city has taken steps to reduce crime rates, but some residents and visitors still wonder: is Detroit safe?

Here are some statistics to consider:

-In 2017, there were 2,057 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Detroit. This included murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults.

-In comparison, the violent crime rate in the state of Michigan was 479 per 100,000 residents in 2017.

-The murder rate in Detroit was 47 per 100,000 residents in 2017. This was higher than the national murder rate of 5 per 100,000 residents.

-There were 1,136 property crimes per 100,000 residents in Detroit in 2017. This included burglaries, thefts, and vehicle thefts.

The History of Crime in Detroit

While Detroit has been in the news for its high crime rate, it’s important to note that the city has made great strides in reducing crime. In fact, crime in Detroit has been on the decline for several years. However, it’s still important to be aware of the city’s crime history and safety precautions.

The Crack Epidemic of the 1980s

The 1980s were a tough time for Detroit. The city was struggling to recover from the 1967 riots, and the automotive industry was in decline. Crime was a major problem, and the city’s reputation as a dangerous place to live was well deserved. In the early 1980s, drug dealers began selling crack cocaine in Detroit. Crack is a form of cocaine that is cheaper and more potent than powder cocaine, and it quickly became popular. The crack epidemic led to an increase in violent crime, as drug dealers fought for turf and addicts committed crimes to get money for drugs. In 1985, there were more than 400 murders in Detroit, and the city’s murder rate remained high throughout the decade. By the end of the 1980s, Detroit had earned the nickname “Murder City.”

The Decline of the Auto Industry

The last several decades have been tough ones for Detroit. As the auto industry declined, so did the city. In 2013, Forbes named Detroit the most miserable city in the United States. It was a far cry from its days as one of America’s most prosperous cities.

The decline of the auto industry hit Detroit hard. In the 1950s, there were nearly 2 million people working in the auto industry in the United States. Today, that number is less than a million. Many of those jobs were in Detroit, and as they disappeared, so did the tax base that had supported the city.

The loss of jobs and population has had a ripple effect on crime in Detroit. As more people have left the city, there are fewer people to witness and report crimes. This has made it easier for criminals to operate with impunity.

The decline of the auto industry is not the only factor that has contributed to crime in Detroit. The city has also been affected by increases in drug use and gang activity. However, the decline of the auto industry is thought to be one of the main reasons why crime rates in Detroit are so high.

The Rise of Gang Violence

In the late 1990s, law enforcement officials began to notice a rise in gang violence in Detroit. By the early 2000s, the city had become a hotbed for gangs, with an estimated 1,400 active gang members. This increase in gang activity coincided with the city’s economic decline, which began in the late 1970s and continued through the 1980s and 1990s. The city’s unemployment rate soared, reaching a high of 28% in 1983. Poverty also rose, with 38% of the city’s residents living below the poverty line by the early 1990s.

With more people out of work and living in poverty, crime rates rose throughout the city. Violent crimes such as murder, rape, and robbery increased by double digits during this time period. By the mid-1990s, Detroit had earned the nickname “Murder City” due to its high murder rate. In 1995, there were 636 murders in Detroit—an average of almost two per day. This made Detroit the most dangerous city in America at that time.

While overall crime rates have declined since the mid-1990s, gang violence remains a serious problem in Detroit. In recent years, there have been numerous high-profile cases of gang-related violence in the city. In 2016, for example, four people were killed and nine others were wounded in a mass shooting at a nightclub on Detroit’s west side. The shooting was believed to be gang-related.

The Present State of Crime in Detroit

As of late, crime rates in Detroit have been on a steady decline. However, this does not mean that the city is now safe. In 2017, there were still over 2,000 violent crimes committed. This is a significant decrease from the nearly 6,000 violent crimes in 2016, but it is still a cause for concern.

The Decline of Violent Crime

Since the early 1990s, Detroit has experienced a dramatic decline in violent crime. In 1992, there were 6,000 reported cases of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault in the city. By 2017, that number had fallen to just over 1,000. This decline mirrors a national trend; according to the FBI, violent crime declined nationwide by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017.

There are a number of theories about what has caused this decrease in violence. One is that changes in policing methods have made it easier to solve crimes and put offenders behind bars. Another is that the drug market has shifted from crack cocaine to methamphetamine and heroin, drugs that are associated with less violence. Whatever the cause, the decline in violent crime is good news for Detroit residents and visitors alike.

The Increase in Property Crime

In recent years, Detroit has experienced an increase in property crime. This is due to a number of factors, including the city’s dwindling population, the high number of abandoned properties, and the presence of criminal gangs.

While violent crime has remained relatively stable, property crimes such as burglary and car theft have been on the rise. In 2015, there were over 24,000 reported burglaries in Detroit—a 20% increase from the previous year. Car theft is also up, with nearly 4,000 vehicles stolen in 2015.

The Detroit Police Department has taken steps to address the problem, but the city’s large size and limited resources have made it difficult to make a significant dent in the crime rate. As a result, many residents have taken matters into their own hands, forming neighborhood watch groups and adopting other precautions to protect their homes and businesses.


When compared to other major cities, Detroit is not as dangerous as some people may think. However, it is still important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions when visiting Detroit. While the city has made strides in improving safety, there are still areas that are best avoided.

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