As we’ve previously reported, crime is on the rise across Illinois, and the state recently passed a law that makes it more difficult to keep communities safe. As we continue to expand our advocacy in the state through the Police Issues Action Center of Illinois, we wanted to go one level deeper and look specifically at some of the most dangerous areas of the state.
Using data from ADT Crime Statistics, here are some of the state’s most dangerous areas:
Located in the northern part of the state, Rockford is the second-largest city in Illinois, with a population of around 150,000. According to ADT, Rockford’s crime rate ranges from slightly above average in the suburbs to well above average in the northeast part of the city.
In April 2021, news station WTVO reported that violent crime was up 8% between January and March, compared to the same time last year. Crimes including shots fired, aggravated assaults, and auto thefts all saw an increase. Domestic violence is also a critical concern for the city; it accounts for 42% of all violent crime, up 7% from a year ago.
While violent crime is up, robberies and property crimes dropped by more than 10%, Rockford Police reported.
When you think about the most dangerous cities in the country, Peoria, Illinois, is probably not the first one to come to mind. However, the city was ranked the 15th most deadly in America in 2019 and continues to have crime rates above the national average.
News station WMBD reported Peoria’s murder rate was 22.53 per 100,000, which was enough to place it at number 15 on the deadliest cities list. Community advocates say the city’s high population of single mothers leads to a lack of positive male role models and a life of crime for young men.
“Kids who don’t have men in the homes, especially young men, are more likely to drop out of school, end up in prison, substance abuse issues… when you have a lack of resources, those communities are most vulnerable to crime,” said Becky Rossman, CEO of Peoria Community Against Violence, adding that the school transient rate is about 25-30% in Peoria.
At the same time crime is on the rise, Peoria is having trouble recruiting police officers and other law enforcement officials. The sheriff’s office has lost 19 employees since January and, earlier this year, was offering signing bonuses to help boost recruitment.
Located in central Illinois, Decatur is seeing its crime rate rise even as its population plummets. The U.S. Census Bureau found it to be the country’s third fastest-declining city based on a 7% population loss from 2010 to 2019.
At the same time, the Decatur Police Department reported nearly 500 violent crimes in 2020, an all-time high for the region. Thirteen of those crimes were homicides, while other crimes included rape, aggrivated assault, and battery.
On a scale of 100, the city’s violent crime rate is 31.4, compared to the national average of 22.7.
East St. Louis
Like Decatur and Peoria, East St. Louis, Illinois faces a dangerous combination of declining population and increasing crime rates. In fact, as recently as 2018, the city was considered to be the most dangerous in America based on its crime rate.
In compiling the statistics, the National Council for Home Safety and Security found that the cities with highest rates of violent crime tend to share two common symptoms: a high poverty rate and few chances to find a job with a good wage, according to FOX2 news.
Crimegrade.org gives East St. Louis an F for its overall crime grade, with violent crime also receiving an F and property crime getting a D-. The site notes that a crime occurs roughly every 3 hours and 40 minutes in the city.
Additionally, ADT reports that the crime rate in East St. Louis is more than five times the national average.
Last but certainly not least, Chicago continues to be plagued by increased violence and struggles to recruit and retain police officers.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s shootings tracker, 2021 is bringing levels of gun violence not seen since 2017. If the shootings continue at current levels, this year could be one of the most violent on record for the city.
Even more heartbreaking is the fact that more than 50 of the shooting victims were children, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, including 7-year-old Jaslyn Adams, who was shot while sitting in the car with her father at a McDonald’s drive-thru and later pronounced dead at the hospital.
While violent crime is on the rise, the Chicago Police Department had 560 retirements in all of 2020, 475 in 2019 and 339 in 2018, according to Law Officer. This troubling trend means it’s more difficult to get the city’s violence under control and also that the police force is losing experience and knowledge.
Chicago Alderman Ray Lopez also pointed to disrespect for police in the city as a major factor in the officer shortage.
“Many of our officers are not choosing to leave law enforcement as a profession but are retiring early to go to other departments because they don’t feel appreciated and respected in their home city of Chicago,” Lopez told Law Officer.
Support Police in Illinois
Given the increase in crime throughout the state of Illinois, supporting the important work of the police there is more important than ever. Visit National Police Support Fund’s Police Issues Action Center of Illinois to learn more about our efforts to keep police officers safe, engage the public on issues impacting the law enforcement community, and much more.
This year 1,583 people have been shot in Chicago as of June 11, 2021. An increase of 184 since 2020 and nearly 500 since 2019. The city’s police are bracing for a violent summer that will bring even more death and destruction to the city’s streets.