Sunday, November 18, 2007

Salt Lake City, Utah The 108th Most Dangerous City In the U.S., Adjoining Suburbs Among The Safest, According To CQ Press Crime Report


A newly-released crime report makes it difficult to believe that Salt Lake City and its adjoining suburbs are actually in the same state.

According to a report entitled "City Crime Rankings: Crime In Metropolitan America", released today by CQ Press, Salt Lake City, Utah is the 108th most dangerous city in the United States out of 378 evaluated. In contrast, two of its suburbs, West Jordan and Sandy, as well as the Utah Valley's two largest cities, Provo and Orem, are among the 56 safest cities, while Ogden experienced a slight improvement in their situation. Only cities of 75,000 or more population were evaluated. Main menu for all CQ Press reports related to this story HERE. AP wire stories on KSL Channel 5 and on the Salt Lake Tribune website.

However, while a comparison with the previous year's statistics show that the suburbs have become safer, the same is not the case for Salt Lake, which deteriorated from being the 125th most dangerous the previous year to 108th this year. In contrast, West Valley City and Provo experienced dramatic improvements. Surprisingly, Salt Lake City was rated more dangerous than both Los Angeles (135th most dangerous) and New York City, of all places (237th most dangerous). Note that despite the title of the report, the rankings themselves are based upon statistics from 2006, the latest full year for which reports are available.

Here are the numbers for all the Utah cities listed on the report, including the percentage of whites in each community (out of curiosity, I also decided to check racial statistics in City-data.com to see if there is still a racial correlation to crime):

1. Salt Lake City - 108th most dangerous in 2006, 125th in 2005 (70% white).
2. Ogden - 198th most dangerous in 2006, 190th in 2005 (70% white).
3. West Valley City - 201st most dangerous in 2006, 159th in 2005 (70% white).
4. West Jordan - 323rd most dangerous in 2006, not rated in 2005 (84% white).
5. Provo - 340th most dangerous in 2006, 293rd in 2005 (84% white).
6. Sandy - 345th most dangerous in 2006, 346th in 2005 (91% white).
7. Orem - 367th most dangerous in 2006, 360th in 2005 (87% white).

And here's the top ten most dangerous and safest nationwide, along with the percentage of whites in each city:


Top Ten Most Dangerous Cities:

1 Detroit, MI - 11% white
2 St. Louis, MO - 43% white
3 Flint, MI - 40% white
4 Oakland, CA - 24% white
5 Camden, NJ - 7% white
6 Birmingham, AL - 24% white
7 North Charleston, SC - 43% white
8 Memphis, TN - 33% white
9 Richmond, CA - 21% white
10 Cleveland, OH - 39% white


Top Ten Safest Cities:

1 Mission Viejo, CA - 76% white
2 Clarkstown, NY - 76% white
3 Brick Twnshp, NJ - 93% white
4 Amherst, NY - 88% white
5 Sugar Land, TX - 61% white
6 Colonie, NY - 91% white
7 Thousand Oaks, CA - 78% white
8 Newton, MA - 86% white
9 Toms River Twnshp, NJ - 90% white
10 Lake Forest, CA - 67% white

And yes, there is still a racial correlation, enough so that, even considering poverty as an additional factor, there is still plenty of support for the relationship between race and crime expressed by Jared Taylor in his research report, "The Color of Crime".

Until this year, these annual rankings were collected, compiled and reported by Morgan Quitno. However, CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly, Inc., purchased Morgan Quitno in June 2007, and took over the process. The rankings are loosely based on the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) statistics released on September 24th, 2007. CQ Press explains their methodology HERE.

This report is already coming under fire from a number of sources. PRNews reports that the U.S. Conference of Mayors sharply criticized the report, complaining that the annual city-by-city crime rankings are distorted and damaging to cities' reputations.

"These rankings are based on the misuse of FBI data," said Rochester, N.Y. Mayor Robert Duffy, a former police chief and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Criminal and Social Justice Committee. "And they would be laughable were it not for the genuine damage they inflict on the convention business, economic development and tourist trade -- not to mention the civic pride -- of the cities that come out on the wrong end for no legitimate reason. We are urging media outlets, which have given the rankings broad coverage in the past, to reconsider their approach". [Ed. Note: Or perhaps this is sour grapes on the part of Mayor Duffy, whose city, Rochester, was classified the 30th most dangerous in the country.]

Among other reasons the rankings are bogus, the Conference said, are these:

(1). In computing the rankings, Morgan Quitno/CQ weights automobile theft as equal to homicide. "Most people would probably prefer to have their car stolen than to be murdered," Mayor Duffy noted. "You would not know this from the rankings".

(2). The rankings are shaped in good measure by the geography of the city they examine. Older U.S. cities are generally smaller and do not contain middle-class, low-crime areas that lie in their suburbs; newer cities, by contrast, tend to have wider boundaries that contain these neighborhoods.

The American Society of Criminology (ASC) also took a swipe at the report. According to Earthtimes, they have approved a resolution opposing the development of city crime rankings from FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCRs), and issued the following statement:

"Be it resolved, that the Executive Board of the American Society of Criminology opposes the use of Uniform Crime Reports data to rank American cities as 'dangerous' or 'safe' without proper consideration of the limitations of these data. Such rankings are invalid, damaging, and irresponsible. They fail to account for the many conditions affecting crime rates, the mismeasurement of crime, large community differences in crime within cities, and the factors affecting individuals' crime risk. City crime rankings make no one safer, but they can harm the cities they tarnish and divert attention from the individual and community characteristics that elevate crime in all cities. The American Society of Criminology urges media outlets to subject city crime rankings to scientifically sound evaluation and will make crime experts available to assist in this vital public responsibility".


In addition, the FBI has posted the following disclaimer on its website with the UCR data:

Caution Against Ranking -- Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region. Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction. The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges or universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment.


However, CQ Press defended their report. Doug Goldenberg-Hart, acquisitions editor at CQ Press, said that the rankings are imperfect, but that the numbers are straightforward. Cities at the top of the list would not be there unless they ranked poorly in all six crime categories, he said. "The idea that people oppose it, it's kind of blaming the messenger," Goldenberg-Hart said. "It's not coming to terms with the idea that crime is a persistent problem in our society."

The report "helps concerned Americans learn how their communities fare in the fight against crime," CQ Press said in a statement. "The first step in making our cities and states safer is to understand the true magnitude of their crime problems. This will only be achieved through straightforward data that all of us can use and understand."

The study excluded Chicago, Minneapolis, and other Illinois and Minnesota cities because of incomplete data.

Too bad this report wasn't released a month ago. It might have been enough to push Proposition 1, the $192 million public safety proposition, over the edge. As it was, despite the sticker shock, it most likely would have passed by a narrow margin had outgoing Mayor Rocky Anderson not opened up his big yap and sabotaged it the week before the election. Proposition 1 was defeated by the narrowest of margins as a result.

Good bye, Rocky, and good riddance!!!

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