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Monday, November 22, 2010

Back On Top: St. Louis Named Most Dangerous City in 2010

Posted By on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 at 7:16 AM

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Updated 11:40 a.m. with response from St. Louis police department.

We're No. 1!  Again.

After first being named "America's Most Dangerous City" in 2006 and coming in second place last year, St. Louis has once again reached the top.

This morning CQ Press released its annual crime rankings comparing cities across the nation on incidences of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. According to the survey, St. Louis had the highest crime rate in 2009 with 2,070.1 violent crimes per 100,000 population, compared with a national average of 429.4.

Ranking just below St. Louis was last year's winner, Camden, New Jersey, followed by Detroit; Flint, Michigan; and Oakland, California.

The St. Louis mayor's office has already responded to CQ's latest poll, stating that crime in the city is down seven percent this year and has fallen each year since 2007.

CQ Press, meanwhile, defends its rankings as an important tool for allowing residents to compare their communities to others and hold police and city leaders accountable. "[C]rime rankings often are deemed 'simplistic' or 'incomplete.' However, this criticism is largely based on the fact that there are reasons for the differences in crime rates, not that the rates are incompatible," CQ Press said in a statement.

P.S. O'Fallon, Missouri, was found to have the second-lowest crime rate in the nation.

P.P.S. St. Louis police spokeswoman Erica Van Ross sent Daily RFT the following statement this morning regarding CQ Press and its annual crime rankings:
In 2006, the publishers of this data told a St. Louis reporter that even they would be "stunned if there is a criminologist out there who will support this." The FBI, the American Society of Criminology and the Criminal Justice Journalists Organization all agree that these rankings are bogus and the FBI feels so strongly about it that the first thing you see when you visit their crime statistics website is a message denouncing using the data in exactly the way this company did.

One of the many major problems with these rankings is the fact that in spite of the FBI's request, cities don't all report crime in the same way. We're doing things exactly as the FBI asks us to do, unlike some other cities. New York doesn't count thefts of items worth less than $1000. We report every theft. Cities in Tennessee used a different reporting system. We use the one the FBI asks us to use. Some cities, like Chicago, aren't even included in these rankings because they didn't meet the FBI criteria for reporting their crimes. We met the criteria.

While St. Louis, like many urban cities, has its challenges, crime has decreased in this city every year since 2007. So far in 2010, violent crime is down 17% this year as compared to last year and overall crime is down nearly 9%. We are a city whose population is growing. That is something that certainly would not be happening unless people felt safe here.

The fact of the matter is that these rankings are not at all about providing useful information to the public. These rankings are about the publishers selling a $70 book, while hoping that citizens won't realize that they can get the same statistical data online for free. You can view our crime statistics at http://www.slmpd.org/crime_stats.html and view every other city that reported to the FBI at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009.

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