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5 unlikely US cities that struggled with rising violent crime in 2022

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Crime has risen in major cities nationwide in recent years as many police departments fight staffing shortages, and critics blame some liberal district attorneys for loosening criminal punishments. 

But while the violent crime rates of major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles repeatedly make headlines, such crime has also increased in some mid-sized cities that do not feature so prominently in national news.

Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city with a population of nearly 300,000 people, spends much of its winter days engulfed in darkness. The city is also steeped in crime problems, continuously ranking among the top 10 most violent cities in the U.S.

Despite a downward trend from 2019 to 2021 in emergency calls reporting assaults, that number climbed again from 2,404 during the first three quarters of 2021 to 2,574 during the same period in 2022, according to statistics from the Anchorage Police Department.

Calls reporting sexual assault dipped from 460 to 442, and while the 352 robbery calls surpassed the 311 during the first three quarters of 2021, they did not meet the 423 recorded both in 2020 and 2019.

FENTANYL CRISIS HITS ALASKA: ‘WE’RE SEEING GROWING ADDICTION’

Anchorage, Alaska, has consistently ranked among the most violent cities in the U.S.
(Zihao Chen via Getty Images)

The opioid crisis has also made its way up to the northernmost state, where overdose deaths have been surging since 2018.

During the first three months of 2022 alone, law enforcement in Alaska seized more than 1,200 grams of fentanyl, which is more than double than all they seized in 2021. The amount has the staggering potential to kill the entire population of a city twice the size of Anchorage.

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Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has raised alarm about the skyrocketing rate of opioid overdoses in the state.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has raised alarm about the skyrocketing rate of opioid overdoses in the state.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images/File)

Among Alaskans aged 15 to 24, opioid overdose deaths increased 25% from 2020 to 2021, and young working adults aged 25 to 34 saw an increase of nearly 200% during the same period, according to the office of Republican Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who portrayed the crisis as a far-flung consequence of a porous southern border.

“The cartels have a pipeline up the West Coast, through California, into Washington state and obviously into Alaska,” retired DEA agent Derek Maltz said. “So, we’re seeing growing addiction.”

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico’s largest city with approximately 565,000 people as of the 2020 census, set a new record with 117 homicide victims this year, according to the most recent data provided to Fox News Digital from the Albuquerque Police Department.

Albuquerque’s previous record last year was 117 homicides by year’s end, but at least three of those have since been ruled self-defense shootings or otherwise. Before that, 2019 marked the ceiling for homicides at 81; between 2014 and 2020, the city’s homicide rate spiked 167%.

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Albuquerque, New Mexico, broke its own homicide record in 2022 with 117 murder victims, according to police.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, broke its own homicide record in 2022 with 117 murder victims, according to police.
(Daniel A. Leifheit/Getty Images/File)

Violent crime has been rising throughout New Mexico and law enforcement has been struggling to keep up, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

ALBUQUERQUE SETS NEW RECORD FOR HOMICIDES THIS YEAR AT 115

The Legislative Finance Committee of the New Mexico Legislature reported earlier this year that between 2016 and 2020, there were at least 19 small- to medium-sized cities and towns in that state that saw a spike in violent crime, many of which exceeded the national average.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee, which boasts the highest population of any city in the state with more than 692,000 people, has also been suffering from crime.

America’s famed Music City, whose 40-member Metropolitan City Council is third-largest in the U.S. behind New York and Chicago, had 8,583 reported violent crimes in 2021, an increase of 4.07% over 2020, according to Metro Nashville Police data. Much of the increase can be attributed to rape and aggravated assaults.

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Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, Tennessee
(Adina Olteanu / 500px via Getty Images/File)

The tourist-popular Broadway area of downtown Nashville especially has been a hub of rising assaults, harassment and aggressive panhandling in recent years, which prompted the city last spring to announce that it was working on a plan to tackle issues surrounding homelessness, according to local Fox affiliate WZTV.

Consequences of crime and general degradation in Nashville have reportedly spilled into its suburban neighborhoods, as recently noted by a cellphone store manager in nearby Madison, which is less than 10 miles from the city center.

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The night view of Lower Broadway at the Broadway Historic District in Nashville, Tennessee.

The night view of Lower Broadway at the Broadway Historic District in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Bruce Yuanyue Bi via Getty Images/File)

Mena Girgis, who manages Carlos Wireless off Gallatin Pike Road, told the local outlet in August that crime has been a major problem for months and is hurting the local economy.

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Girgis said he had taken to closing an hour earlier because of safety concerns, and he even spread engine oil in front of the store to deter homeless panhandlers from loitering.

Tennessee ranked near the top of the list for violent crime last year, according to FBI crime statistics — surpassed only by nearby Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana. Data from 2021 revealed that Tennessee had a violent crime rate of about 675 per 100,000 people, far higher than the national rate of 396 per 100,000.

Memphis is infamous for its violent crime, setting a record with 346 homicides in 2021, which broke its previous record of 332 murders in 2020. The city was the most violent metropolitan area in the U.S. in 2020, according to the FBI.

Asheville, North Carolina

A historic tourist town of approximately 90,000 people tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Asheville has seen rising rates of violent crime in recent years, much of which is because of aggravated assaults.

Asheville, North Carolina, has seen rising trends of violent crime in recent years.

Asheville, North Carolina, has seen rising trends of violent crime in recent years.
(Walter Bibikow via Getty Images/File)

Violent crime rose 31% per 100,000 people from 2016 to 2020 in the city, nearly double the national average and 18 percentage points higher than North Carolina’s 13% statewide increase during the same period.

The Asheville Police Department (APD) released new statistics in September that showed such trends have continued, increasing 34% year-to-date compared to last year and 29% over 2020.

DEMOCRAT-RUN TOURIST TOWN IN NORTH CAROLINA SEES VIOLENT CRIME SPIKE AS POLICE DWINDLE: ‘PERFECT STORM’

The Biltmore Estate, built in 1895, is the biggest tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Biltmore Estate, built in 1895, is the biggest tourist attraction in Asheville, North Carolina.
(George Rose via Getty Images/File)

Both the APD and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office have meanwhile been hemorrhaging officers, with APD Chief David Zack telling Fox News Digital in September that his department is straining to operate at nearly 42% down every day. He noted that officer departures accelerated in the wake of tense, tear gas-choked demonstrations downtown in the wake of George Floyd’s death in 2020.

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Zack pinpointed family pressures, a perceived lack of community support and low pay in the expensive city as major factors pushing police to throw in the towel. He also said that “officers are very, very frustrated” with low bail in the Democrat-run mountain town, which the chief noted has also seen an “alarming” surge in fentanyl on the streets.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Famous for its nightlife, music and cuisine, New Orleans also earned notoriety earlier this year when it surpassed St. Louis as the murder capital of the U.S.

According to a report released in September by the crime-tracking organization Metropolitan Crime Commission, homicides in the Big Easy were up 44% year-to-date compared with 2021, tying with armed robbery for largest increase since last year. 2022 marked the city’s bloodiest year since Hurricane Katrina ravaged it in 2005.

NEW ORLEANS BECOMES MURDER CAPITAL OF AMERICA, OVERTAKING ST. LOUIS

The Krewe of Proteus rolls on the Uptown route with the theme "Divine Tricksters" in New Orleans on February 28, 2022.

The Krewe of Proteus rolls on the Uptown route with the theme “Divine Tricksters” in New Orleans on February 28, 2022.
(Brett Duke, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate via AP Newsroom)

Homicides in New Orleans are up 141% when compared to 2019 and up 78% when compared to 2021, according to the data, which noted there were 205 homicides in the city from the beginning of 2022 until Sept. 11. Homicides decreased in October and November compared to those months last year, but the city has still seen an additional 46 murders, bringing the count near the year’s end to 251, according to NOLA.com.

In September, officials in New Orleans announced an $80 million plan to increase pay for police officers, offer free health care and provide $30,000 in increased hiring incentives for new hires within the department.

NEW ORLEANS ON PACE TO HAVE ONE OF THE HIGHEST MURDER RATES IN THE WORLD IN 2022

Revelers on Bourbon Street in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. A consultant warned the city must immediately get its crime under control if it hopes to remain a tourist town.

Revelers on Bourbon Street in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. A consultant warned the city must immediately get its crime under control if it hopes to remain a tourist town.
(John Coletti via Getty Images/File)

The city also hired a consultant, former head of the New York City Police Department’s patrol division Fausto Pichardo, to review ways in which the police department can better combat crime.

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“Action must be taken NOW if there is ever a chance to save the city and bring the reputation of being a city where tourists can come to party and celebrate and not become victims,” Pichardo wrote in his report released earlier this year.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Jake Karalexis and Adam Sabes contributed to this report.

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