In 2008, there were 99 homicides in San Francisco, about the same as last year. Sound bad? Sure, of course 99 murders is nothing to be proud of, but when you stack it up against other cities, it's actually pretty low. Let's go to the numbers.
The population of SF, give or take, is about 800,000. So that's about 12.25 murders for every 100,000 people.
The two cities closest in size to SF are Jacksonville, Florida (805,000) and Indianapolis, Indiana (759,400). Last year, there were 143 murders in JAX, or about 17.88 for every 100,000 people. The rate in Indy was 16.18 per 100 grand, about the same. Both higher than SF.
Even placid-seeming Tucson, Arizona, home to 525,000 sun-irradiated souls, saw 78 murders, for a rate of 14.86, also higher than San Fran.
Some cities are just way bad. Philadelphia - who loves ya, Philly? - had 392 murders on a pop of 1,449,000, for a rate of about 27.05 per 100 thou. But you think things are tough in Philly? You ain't seen nothing yet. I'm looking at you, Baltimore, with 234 murders and 637,455 peeps, for a staggering rate of 36.73 murders per 100,000 residents. Yikes. Scratch Baltimore off the "to-visit" list.
At the other end of the spectrum is NYC. Yes, NYC, which once had an annual homicide rate above 2,000, had a scant 522 murders in 2008 on a population of 8,274,000, for a low low rate of 6.31. 6.31 per 100,000! There's probably a higher rate of people who find crumpled-up $20s in bar bathrooms. Way to go, Big Apple!
So don't feel to bad, fellow SF-ers. You still have a better chance of being killed in a lot of other cities.
P.S. In case you're wondering, LA had 376 murders and a population of 3,834,000, for a rate of 9.81. Hrmph.