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This City Has Been Named the Most Dangerous City to Live in Arizona



Arizona is home to several magnificent natural wonders, including the famous Saguaro cactus, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona’s red rocks. But it also faces significant challenges from a high crime rate, especially in some cities. Arizona reported 484.8 violent crimes and 2,507.8 property crimes per 100,000 people in 2020, above the national norms of 379.4 and 2,109.9, respectively, according to FBI figures. Tolleson is the riskiest of Arizona’s ninety-one cities and municipalities. In this piece, we explore Tolleson’s reasoning for making this distinction as well as the problems and ramifications that follow.

Why Tolleson is the Most Dangerous City in Arizona

Located west of Phoenix, Tolleson is a tiny Maricopa County community with 7,216 residents as of 2020. It is home to multiple Fortune 500 corporations, including PepsiCo, Kroger, and Sysco. Even with its thriving economy and close proximity to the state capital, Tolleson faces a serious crime problem. Areavibes data for 2020 showed that Tolleson had an astounding crime rate of 13,374 per 100,000 population, which was 470% higher than the national average. This corresponds to a 1 in 83 risk of suffering violent crime and a 1 in 8 chance of becoming a victim of any crime. Theft, burglary, and assault are the most common crimes; there are also occasional cases of robbery, rape, murder, and arson.

Several factors may contribute to Tolleson s designation as Arizona s most dangerous city:

  • Location and infrastructure: Tolleson s proximity to Interstate 10, a major conduit for drug trafficking and smuggling from Mexico and California, renders it susceptible to drug-related crime and violence, as well as trafficking in stolen goods and vehicles. Additionally, the city grapples with a shortage of law enforcement resources, boasting only 15 sworn officers and 11 civilian staff for its entire jurisdiction.
  • Economic and social conditions: Tolleson exhibits a socioeconomic dichotomy, with a median household income of $43,681, below the state average of $62,055, and a poverty rate of 18.9%, exceeding the state average of 13.5%. These conditions foster a robust demand for drugs and provide fertile ground for criminal activity. Moreover, Tolleson has a history of racial and ethnic discrimination, once barring African Americans and Native Americans from residing or working within its confines.
  • Cultural and political influence: Despite its strategic location, Tolleson struggles to establish a distinct and positive identity amid neighboring cities like Phoenix, Glendale, and Avondale. Low civic engagement, evident in a meager voter turnout of 19.6%, further compounds issues, leaving Tolleson vulnerable to crime, corruption, and neglect from authorities and media outlets.

What are the Implications of Tolleson Being the Most Dangerous City in Arizona

The fact that Tolleson has been named the most hazardous city in Arizona has significant ramifications for the citizens of the city, the county, and the state:

  • Public health and safety crisis: Crime and violence pose significant threats to Tolleson s public health and safety, contributing to various health hazards such as injury, infection, trauma, and mortality. With a mortality rate of 1,029.8 per 100,000 individuals in 2019, exceeding the state average, Tolleson grapples with challenges in providing accessible healthcare and emergency services, particularly for uninsured or underinsured residents.
  • Crime and justice burden: The prevalence of crime and violence incurs substantial costs and burdens on Tolleson s criminal justice system, demanding extensive resources from law enforcement, courts, prisons, and victims. In Arizona, the average cost of incarceration per inmate per year exceeds the national average. Furthermore, strained community-police relations and transparency issues within the criminal justice system exacerbate challenges.
  • Social and economic impact: Crime and violence impede Tolleson s social and economic development, adversely affecting individual well-being, family stability, and community prosperity. High unemployment rates, low educational attainment levels, and diminished economic opportunities underscore the broader societal consequences of crime, hindering Tolleson s growth and vitality.

What are the Challenges of Tolleson Being the Most Dangerous City in Arizona

Several obstacles arise from Tolleson’s ranking as the most violent city in Arizona:

  • Prevention and intervention dilemma: Effectively addressing crime and violence requires a delicate balance between deterrence, rehabilitation, restoration, and retribution. Tolleson must implement comprehensive strategies encompassing enforcement, education, treatment, and mediation, while fostering collaboration with other governmental entities to combat crime effectively.
  • Data and evidence gap: Tolleson grapples with obtaining accurate, timely data on crime and violence and their underlying causes. Reliable data sources are essential for assessing the scope of the issue and evaluating the efficacy of interventions. Despite relying on diverse data collection methods, Tolleson faces challenges concerning data quality, accessibility, and comparability.
  • Innovation and adaptation challenge: Tolleson must continually adapt to evolving crime trends and tactics, including cybercrime, organized crime, and substance abuse. Remaining vigilant against emerging threats necessitates innovative approaches and collaborations across sectors to mitigate risks and safeguard community well-being.


Tolleson’s ranking as the most hazardous city in Arizona highlights intricate socioeconomic problems and structural problems that call for a variety of approaches to be taken. To build a safer, more prosperous community for all citizens, Tolleson must address high crime rates while putting public health and safety first, improving community-police relations, and promoting economic possibilities. Coordinated efforts, creative solutions, and a persistent commitment from stakeholders at the local, county, and state levels are required to address Tolleson’s difficulties.

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