Ever since the Great Recession of 2008, cities have had to reprioritize what is and is not worth investing in.

And on the list for reevaluation includes police, fire and emergency medical services.

So which cities managed to afford keeping the vital resources alive, especially given HousingWire’s recent article on the 10 most dangerous suburbs in America?

NerdWallet published a list of the top 5 cities that invest the most resources in public safety, studying 239 cities with populations of 100,000 or more that provide police and fire services.

5. Memphis, Tenn.

For every 10,000 residents, Memphis has nearly 30 fire personnel, one of the best ratios among cities. In addition, the fire department provides a wide range of services, including structural collapse, confined space, trench and water rescue as well as hazardous material response. Back in 2011, the Memphis Police Department put 90% of its budget toward personnel.

4. St. Louis, Mo.


For the city that is the Gateway to the West, St. Louis boasts more than 58 police staff for every 10,000 residents, and it is working in their favor. From 2010 to 2012, both violent crime and property rates fell in the city by 8.76% and 19.50%, respectively. The city also has 30 fire stations and operates nine engine companies, 20 ladder trucks companies and five hook-and-ladder companies. 

3. Baltimore, Md.

Tucked away in the northeast, Baltimore has more than 27 fire staff for every 10,000 residents and offers an extensive infrastructure of fire, EMS and special operations teams. The department responds to more than 270,000 emergencies a year, along with operating 36 advanced life support medic units.

As far as its police department goes, there are more than 53 police staff for every 10,000 residents, devoting a lot of resources to reducing crime and fostering a healthy community to live in. Police efforts reduced violent crime by 5.65% between 2012 and 2012.

2. Birmingham, Ala.

This city has more fire staff per capita than any other city studied, operating the largest fire department in Alabama. Meanwhile, Birmingham has more than 52 police staff for every 10,000 residents. However, the city also has some of the highest property crime rates of any city on the list.

1. Washington, D.C.


America’s capital pulled in as the top city that invests in public safety, with more than 68 police staff for every 10,000 residents. In 2007, the city launched the All Hands on Deck initiative that assigned officers to a citywide street patrol for 48 hours to engage with residents and stem increases in summer crime, marking just one example of the police department’s focus and drive. 

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