MIAMI -- Miami has become the murder capital of America with the highest violent crime rate in the nation, the Miami news reported Tuesday.
The newspaper said the total number of violent crimes, including murders, rapes and robberies, more than doubled in Miami last year.
Miami's murder rate in 1980 was 62.2 for every 100,000 residents -- 25 percent higher than St. Louis, which had a murder rate of 49.9 per 100,000 residents, the newspaper said. Newark was third with a rate of 49, followed by Atlanta with 47.4 and Cleveland with 46.2.
Compared to 1979, the crime rate in Miami jumped by 71 percent.
Seven cities -- New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Philadelphia and Cleveland -- recorded more murders than Miami last year. However, Miami's 229 murders were by far the most in proportion to population, the News said.
In addition, robberies increased by 105 percent, aggravated assaults by 106 percent and rapes by 33 percent, the News reported.
The total number of violent crimes last year was 3,753 for every 100,000 residents. Newark, which had the highest violent crime rate in 1979, had a rate of 3,345 per 100,000 residents through October 1980. Although 12-month figures were not available, the newspaper said it was unlikely the total would surpass Miami's figures.
Miami Police Chief Kenneth Harms said the Miami murder rate was misleading because 'crime statistics... are based on the ratio of reported crimes to population and Miami's population is considerably higher than census figures reflect.'
Preliminary 1980 census figures set Miami's population as 335,000. The News said it added 33,000 -- the latest federal estimate of the number of refugees who settled in the city last year -- to those figures to arrive at its crime rate index.
Harms said Miami's population is closer to 420,000 -- 75,000 more than estimated by the census figures. However, even using Harms' estimate, Miami emerges with a nation-high murder rate of 54.5 per 100,000 residents.