Arment Dietrich

Most Dangerous City?

By: Arment Dietrich | November 27, 2007 | 

As the 14th annual “City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America” was published by CQ Press, discussions erupted over the credibility of the lists.  The study, which was released Sunday, was hit with criticism prior to its release, and it continues to field complaints into this week.

The American Society of Criminology issued a statement Friday calling the study “an irresponsible misuse” of crime data, as reported by the Associated Press.  The study gets its roots from the FBI’s September 24 crime statistics report. The big disagreement comes in how the list was formed and whether the information was used within context.

The study, which is highly publicized each year, gives the public the perception that these rankings are hard facts, rather than controversial interpretations of data. In order to receive the full study, you must pay for it.

The opinions of the Detroit Police Department, FBI, and Michael Tonry, president of the American Society of Criminology, as reported by the Associated Press, speak for themselves.

“Detroit police officials released a statement Sunday night disputing the report, saying it fails to put crime information into proper context.”

The rankings “do groundless harm to many communities,” said Michael Tonry, president of the American Society of Criminology.

The FBI posted a statement on its Web site criticizing such use of its statistics. “These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region,” the FBI said. “Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents.”

Doug Goldenberg-Hart, acquisitions editor at CQ Press, even went on the record saying, “the rankings are imperfect, but that the numbers are straightforward.”

These rankings have no business being splashed in headlines, if they aren’t solid facts.  The study didn’t even include a look at some major metropolitan cities, such as Chicago.

Watch CQ Press Publisher John Jenkins describe how the data was used »

Ranked Most Dangerous

1. Detroit, Michigan
2. St. Louis, Missouri
3. Flint, Michigan
4. Oakland, California
5. Camden, New Jersey
6. Birmingham, Alabama
7. North Charleston, South Carolina
8. Memphis, Tennessee
9. Richmond, California
10. Cleveland, Ohio
Source: CQ Press


Ranked Safest

1. Mission Viejo, California
2. Clarkstown, New York
3. Brick Township, New Jersey
4. Amherst, New York
5. Sugar Land, Texas
6. Colonie, New York
7. Thousand Oaks, California
8. Newton, Massachusetts
9. Toms River Township, N.J.
10. Lake Forest, California
Source: CQ Press

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