Big metropolitan areas are safer than they’ve been in decades, while small communities in some states are getting more dangerous, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In at least 10 states, most in the Midwest and Northeast, the rate of violence in rural counties has increased over the past two decades, even as it has fallen or stayed the same in those states’ metropolitan areas, a Journal analysis last December of federal crime data showed.
According to the Journal, increased drug use and its associated crimes — trafficking, prostitution, theft and domestic violence — are fueling the rise.
For example, in Ross County, Ohio, the violent-crime rate has tripled in the past two decades, with the sheriff’s department getting nearly 3,000 calls this year—more than six times what the number would’ve been at the same point in the year a decade ago, the Journal reported.
Also, violent-crime rates in rural counties tripled in New Hampshire and doubled in West Virginia and Iowa since 1996, the Journal reported while the murder rate in West Virginia’s rural counties is now higher than in its metropolitan areas.
In Tennessee, urban gangs are moving out into the country to be closer to their rural customers, TJ Jordan of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation told the Journal, reporting “they start pushing their wares out into the rural areas.”
“Drugs breed guns, guns breed violence,” he told the Journal.
And small rural police enforcement agencies are overwhelmed, the Journal reported.
“It is nothing but you and the cows and the sirens,” Sgt. Brenton Davidson, a patrol sergeant at the sheriff’s office in Ross County, Ohio, told the Journal. “You are seeing more violence, and you never know where your backup is coming from.”
“Every year I’ve asked for more officers—for patrol, for the jail. Every year,” said Ross County Sheriff George Lavender Jr.
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