Ohio Crime Mapping Part I | Aggravated Assault 1974-2008

As part of our ongoing effort to study the State of Ohio, we decided to analyze crime rates by county for ten different crimes: aggravated assault, arson, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, murder, property crime, rape, robbery and violent crime. The first crime we will be taking a look at is aggravated assault, which can include things like a random attack on a street, a husband hitting his wife, or a bar argument gone bad. Aggravated assault has been defined in American statute as “an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury” and is often “accompanied by the use of a weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm.” When a combination of aggravated assault and larceny theft occur, the crime is then categorized as a robbery. An aggravated assault is also escalated in severity to a felony when it occurs on a police officer.
In 2009, the US saw an estimated 806,843 aggravated assaults, which is down 4.2% from 2008 and 11.5% from 2000; this is about 26.3 offenses per 10,000 citizens. Of the aggravated assaults in 2009, 73.1% were committed with a weapon and the remainder were committed with hands, fists or feet.
The FBI crime data included 93.5% of the Ohio Metropolitan areas, 80.6% of the cities outside metropolitan areas and 90.6% of the nonmetropolitan areas reporting for 2009. In the Ohio MSA’s, 13,803 aggravated assaults occurred. The cities outside the MSA’s had 810 and the non-MSA areas had 695. This brings the total number of 2009 aggravated assaults in Ohio to 16,009, which is about 13.9 per 10,000 citizens. As previously mentioned, as part of our analysis of Ohio, we broke the Ohio crime data provided by the FBI into 5 year increments by county. This has helped us better analyze the aggravated assault rate changes over the last 34 years.

From 1974 to 1978, Richland County had the highest aggravated assault rate with 33.73 per 10,000 residents. The next closest county was Hamilton County (Cincinnati) with only 24.31 per 10,000, followed by a number of counties around 23-24 aggravated assaults per 10,000 residents, including Astabula, Cuyahoga, Montgomery, Portage and Summit Counties. Franklin (Columbus), Lucas (Toledo), Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Montgomery (Dayton) Counties reported 16.37, 20.56, 22.20 and 23.63 aggravated assaults per 10,000 residents respectively. Adams County in Southwest Ohio reported the lowest aggravated assault rate per 10,000 residents, with only 0.09.
Moving into the years 1979 to 1983, the State of Ohio saw an overall increase in the number of aggravated assaults, with Richland County maintaining as the county with the most with 49.90 per 10,000 residents. Cuyahoga and Hamilton Counties also saw an increase in aggravated assaults to 31.08 and 30.72 per 10,000 people, maintaining their positions near the top of the list of counties with the most aggravated assaults in Ohio. A few new countinues saw a sharp increase in aggravated assaults, pushing them to the top of the list, including Allen, Lawrence, Mahoning and Montgomery. Franklin and Lucas Counties maintained their positions as the lowest of counties with large cities with 20.33 and 22.81 aggravated assaults per 10,000. Monroe County in Southeast Ohio had the lowest aggravated assault rate with only 0.21 for every 10,000 residents.
1984 to 1988 found a new county leading in the number of aggravated assaults per 10,000 residents: Clark, with 66.18. Richland County fell to second, with 55.21 per 10,000, followed by Allen and Mahoning Counties with 48.77 and 47.63 aggravated assaults per 10,000 people. In the major metropolitan areas, Franklin and Lucas Counties saw an increase in aggravated assaults per 10,000 while Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Montgomery Counties saw a decrease. A few other counties, including Butler, Erie, Highland, Lawrence, and Summit, also saw an increase pushing them toward the top of the list for this time frame. Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Montgomery saw decreases in aggravated assaults, while Franklin and Lucas Counties saw modest increases. Starting in 1984, aggravated assault data become more patchy and a few counties (Hancock, Knox, Meigs) recorded no aggravated assaults in this time frame. This could be to an actual lack of aggravated assaults or a lack of data. Vinton County in Southern Ohio had the lowest aggravated assault rate outside of these three counties, with 0.22 per 10,000 residents.
There was a drastic increase in the number of aggravated assaults in the leading counties from 1989 to 1993. Allen County in Northwest Ohio took over as leader in aggravated assaults with 119.27 per 10,000 residents. Substantially behind Allen County was Richland County, Clark County and Mahoning County with 82.83, 73.48 and 66.99 aggravated assaults per 10,000 residents respectively. All five counties containing the major Ohio cities saw slight increases in aggravated assault rates from the previous time frame. As with the previous time frame, certain counties seem to have missing data again (Brown, Hancock, Knox, Meigs, Noble), with the next lowest aggravated assault rate being Pike County in Southern Ohio, with 1.38 per 10,000 residents.
From 1994 to 1998, a previous leader in aggravated assaults returned to the number one spot: Clark County with 97.30 per 10,000 residents. Coming in closely behind at second was Allen County with 93.92 aggravated assaults per 10,000 people. Rounding out the top five were Richland County with 76.20, Mahoning County with 72.95, and Fairfield County with 52.51 aggravated assaults per 10,000 people. Cuyahoga, Franklin, Lucas, and Montgomery all saw increases in their aggravated assault rates, while Hamilton County was the only to record a decrease for this time frame. From 1994 to 1998, nine counties recorded zero aggravated assaults, including Brown, Gallia, Hancock, Holmes, Knox, Lawrence, Meigs, Putnam and Vinton. Harrison County recorded the lowest aggravated assault rate, with 1.66 per 10,000 people.
1999 to 2003 saw an overall decrease in aggravated assault rates across the State of Ohio, while bringing in a new leader in this crime. For the first time, a county of a major metro area led in aggravated assault rates: Lucas County experienced 33.32 aggravated assaults per 10,000 residents. With 30.80 aggravated assaults per 10,000 people, Highland County registered a decrease for this time frame, but came in a close second for the state. The remaining top five included Clark, Allen and Mahoning Counties. All five counties containing the major Ohio cities saw decreases from the 1994-1998 range, with Montgomery County coming in the lowest with 16.47 aggravated assaults per 10,000 residents. Knox County had the lowest aggravated assault rate in Ohio from 1999 to 2003, with only 0.18 per 10,000 people.

The last time frame studied spanned from 2004 to 2008, and Lucas County again led the way in aggravated assaults with 49.50 per 10,000 residents, a significant jump from the previous period. Allen County maintained it’s position near the top in the state, with 24.69 aggravated assaults per 10,000 residents. The top 5 was rounded out with Butler, Erie and Trumbull Counties, with 24.23, 21.27 and 21.26 aggravated assaults for every 10,000 residents respectively. Two of the major metro area counties, Lucas and Montgomery saw an increase in the aggravated assault rates, while Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton Counties all saw modest decreases. Noble and Monroe Counties appear to be lacking data from this range; Knox County recorded the lowest aggravated assault rate from 2004 to 2008, with only 0.16 per 10,000 residents.

60 of the 88 counties in Ohio reported a decrease in aggravated assaults per 10,000 people from 1974 to 2008; this seems to point to a concerted effort statewide to decrease the number of aggravated assaults. Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Montgomery Counties all saw an overall decrease from 1974 to 2008, while Franklin and Lucas experienced increases. Throughout the entire time frame, four counties led the state at some point in aggravated assaults: Allen, Clark, Lucas, and Richland. Statewide, the late 80’s to the mid 90’s saw a rapid expansion in the aggravated assault rates, but then saw a fairly steep decline soon after; the new millennium has brought a relative leveling off. However, even with the decrease in aggravated assaults in these leading counties, they are often still well above the Ohio average for their respective time frames.

Overall, it seems the State of Ohio is headed in the right direction in terms of controlling its aggravated assault rates. Many of the same counties have stayed at the top of the list in terms of this type of crime, but like rest of the state have seen an overall decrease since the late 80’s, often reaching their mid 70’s levels. With further documentation of these crimes, prevention can increase and hopefully Ohio can continue to curb the number of aggravated assaults across the state.