Camden, N.J., is no longer the most violent city in America. That distinction now belongs to St. Louis, Mo., my hometown.
At least, that’s the assessment by CQ Press, which each year examines the rate of violent crime in America’s cities and metropolitan areas. For the record, according to 2009 statistics, St. Louis had 2,070 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, with Camden, last year’s “winner,” not far behind.
CQ’s whole enterprise is misleading, however. In Camden, as in St. Louis, how violent it is depends on where exactly in the city you are. Visit Camden’s gleaming, touristy waterfront, its lovely aquarium and fine hotels, and you might not know what problems lurk in its neighborhoods. Spend a weekend in downtown St. Louis going to the zoo, the symphony, or a Cardinals game and you’d probably have no idea you’re in the “most violent” city in America.
I mention Camden’s crime rate, because Senior Editor Del Stover and I wrote about two schools in some of the poorer parts of that city for this month’s ASBJ. Del went to LEAP University Charter School. I visited the more “traditional” Woodrow Wilson High School.