This City Has Been Named the Murder Capital of Arizona

Bisbee, situated in southeastern Arizona, is renowned for its historical allure, artistic community, and picturesque landscapes. However, it bears a disconcerting distinction as Arizona’s murder capital, boasting a staggering rate of 97.8 murders per 100,000 people, significantly surpassing the state and national averages. This alarming statistic prompts an exploration into the factors contributing to this phenomenon.

The History of Violence in Bisbee

Founded in 1880 as a mining town, Bisbee thrived economically but endured violence, notably during labor disputes. The infamous Bisbee Deportation of 1917, where over 1,000 miners were forcibly removed, left a lasting scar on the city’s history.

The decline of the mining industry in the 1970s led to economic and social challenges. Bisbee evolved into a haven for artists and retirees, yet struggled with issues such as poverty, unemployment, drug abuse, and crime, all contributing to its elevated murder rate.

Causes and Consequences

Several factors may contribute to Bisbee’s high murder rate:

  1. Small Population Size: With around 5,000 residents, a few murders significantly impact the rate, unlike larger cities. This was evident in 2019 when Bisbee’s five murders resulted in a rate of 97.8 per 100,000 people, in stark contrast to Phoenix.
  2. Geographic Isolation: Situated 90 miles southeast of Tucson, Bisbee’s remote location hampers law enforcement and emergency response, providing an advantageous environment for criminals.
  3. Lack of Resources: With a median household income of $30,000 and limited opportunities, Bisbee faces economic hardships that can foster a sense of desperation leading to violence.

Solutions and Prospects for Bisbee

Addressing Bisbee’s complex issues necessitates a comprehensive approach:

  1. Increased Police Presence: Bolstering the police force and collaboration with authorities can enhance crime prevention and resolution. Building trust with residents is crucial.
  2. Social and Economic Improvement: Initiatives targeting poverty, unemployment, and substance abuse can address root causes. Providing education and job opportunities is essential.
  3. Promotion of Positive Aspects: Celebrating Bisbee’s history, culture, and attractions can enhance its image, attracting visitors and investors crucial for economic development.


Bisbee’s paradoxical character, marked by charm and danger, necessitates urgent attention. While currently labeled as Arizona’s murder capital, the city possesses the potential for positive transformation. Through collaboration, resource allocation, and a focus on its unique assets, Bisbee can overcome its challenges and emerge as a safer and more prosperous community.

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