By at least one measure Milwaukee’s violent crime rate exceeds the national average, but the comparison is misleading, criminologists told Wisconsin Watch.
It’s difficult “to make sweeping statements without context,” said University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Theodore Lentz.
The website 24/7 Wall St. reported that 2020 FBI data for violent crime — murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — showed Milwaukee had 1,597 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, compared to 399 incidents per 100,000 nationwide.
By that metric Milwaukee’s rate is 300% higher.
“But it’s not really fair to compare a large city to the national rate, which will also include suburbs and rural areas, so it’s not a statistic that is particularly meaningful on its own,” said University of Pennsylvania professor Aaron Chalfin.
Lentz said that even comparing similar-size cities has pitfalls because of differences in reporting and other factors.
The FBI warns against using its data to rank cities.
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