Crime Thread

A catch-all forum for urban discussion. If it doesn't fit elsewhere, post here.
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Good to see that some in the St. Louis community were very engaged in trying to make the numbers make sense. I believe we're something like the 79th most dangerous metropolitan area. Among the rediculous aspects of this report, only 2-3 cities even have a chance at the top spot due to political boundaries. IMO - we either need to begin reporting our crime statistics in a different way (see Chicago) or demand that crime rankings be done by an MSA's most dangerous area of approximately 300-400K people while ignoring abritrary political lines. Enough of that . . . on to the story. Go Detroit!



Area group fights 'crime' label

By Jeremy Kohler

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

11/18/2007



What do big-city mayors, university-based criminologists, the FBI and the head of a group of criminal-justice journalists have in common?



They've all had it with an annual publication that ranks U.S. cities by danger — a list currently topped by a certain Midwestern city with a large arch.



With the help of a public relations firm, the wide-ranging consortium tried this fall to thwart the 14th annual release of the rankings, set for Sunday night.



They saw an opening. The publisher of the list, Morgan Quitno Press, is under new management: CQ Press, the publishing arm of Congressional Quarterly, a respected Capitol Hill news source. Its corporate parent is owned by the Poynter Institute, a prestigious nonprofit education center for journalists. Advertisement



From the offices of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association, the group dialed up the publisher Oct. 17 to complain that the city rankings are baseless and damaging.



The response? Tough luck.



The most-dangerous-city list isn't going anywhere.



St. Louis has "a PR problem" because of a high crime rate, John A. Jenkins, publisher and senior vice president of CQ Press, said in an interview Friday. He called the effort to "attack the book" a spin job by Fleishman Hillard, the St. Louis-based public relations giant.



"We were cordial and wanted to hear what they wanted to say," he said. "But not publishing the book is not an option."



Paul G. Wagman, a Fleishman Hillard senior vice president and partner, said his firm worked on behalf of the RCGA and sought the meeting with CQ because the company "might listen to reason, or at least listen respectfully to their concerns." RELATED LINK

Morgan Quitno



The city danger rankings, issued for 13 years by Morgan Quitno, of Kansas, have been pure poison for some cities, which say the label scares away investors and visitors.



For the past seven years, just three cities — St. Louis, Detroit and Camden, N.J. — have held the crown no city wants. Sunday night, the report will name Detroit most dangerous city in a squeaker over St. Louis. (Mission Viejo, Calif., will be named safest city.)



For years, Morgan Quitno president Scott Morgan has shrugged off condemnation from academics — and mayoral aides — who have derided his product as inaccurate, unfair and meaningless.



The rankings are based on annual crime statistics published by the FBI. The bureau itself warns that the data should not be used for city-to-city comparisons. Although the FBI has a standardized procedure for counting crimes, in reality, cities compile statistics differently and their totals can't be compared, the bureau says.



Criminologists, critical of Morgan Quitno's methodology, have increasingly tried to steer reporters away from the rankings and toward what they consider smarter analyses of crime stats.



Last week, the executive board of the American Society of Criminology issued a statement condemning crime rankings as "irresponsible misuse of data." Richard Rosenfeld, of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has been one of the chief critics.



Rosenfeld said Friday that city comparisons were meaningless because some cities had annexed swaths of suburbia, whereas others, such as St. Louis, are confined to the urban core. Comparing metropolitan areas is more fair, he said.



He added that other factors, such as a person's age, gender or lifestyle — or even what neighborhood he lives in — are much more important to predicting safety than knowing what city he lives in.



Put another way, a young man on the streets of Mission Viejo at midnight might be in a more dangerous place than an old woman in bed in St. Louis.



Jenkins — as Morgan did for years — dismissed suggestions that cities crime stats can't be compared.



"We want to take FBI data and do what CQ does best," he said, "take government information and make it intelligible to the lay public. That's what we do here."




Link: http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/41A85C43D2B421E186257396001D38A2?OpenDocument

I'd like to see the "usual suspects" for the top ten most dangerous list get together for a PR push to show the public why this is a misuse of statistics. Cities like St. Louis, Detroit, Camden, Gary, Flint, Oakland, etc. could use some front page articles in major papers showing how this report uses poor methodology. We shouldn't stand by this year and say, "well as long as we're not number one." Detroit doesn't need this ridiculous label just like we didn't need it last year.

^ I think Camben and Detroit may have an argument as they are just small parts of a large metro area and they happen to be the home of many criminals. Flint and Gary however are mid-size towns with extraordinary unemployment, negative growth and serious crime. I would imagine that the numbers reported pretty much include the entire metro areas of these two towns.

That really depends on what we're complaining about. I don't think it'll help if St. Louis/Detroit only cry foul because they have a special context. Overall, people should know that these stats are not meant for ANY city-to-city comparisons. I think this is about changing people's entire perception of these statistics rather than just complaining that our situation is unfair.

I think Detroit ranked as a METRO area is still at the top, while st. louis falls to 30th or lower. Can someone confirm this?

Morgan Quitno Press topped the list of irresponsible publishers in my report that I'll be issuing tomorrow. How's your own medicine taste Mr. John A. Jenkins?

#2? Hopefully we'll do better next year.

CQ Press acquired Morgan Quitno Press. The problem is this: They use a primitive methodology that allows a city to greatly improve its crime ranking just by annexing lower crime suburbs with no real improvement in street by street crime rates. I'm surprised Congressional Quarterly would want to sully its reputation with this kind of junk science shoddy reporting. I guess they need the money that comes with the book sales.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/11/18/danger ... index.html



Looks like AP is finally calling foul.

Where did St. George rank...?

Just curious: Yes we are number two, but did our crime go down or did Detroits just go up?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/2007111...crime_rankings





To: CITY EDITORS





Contact: Elena Temple of U.S. Conference of Mayors, +1-202-861-6719, [email protected]





WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Conference of Mayors today sharply criticized the latest "Most Dangerous Cities" list released by CQ Press, saying 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."





Mayor Duffy was referring to an annual ranking of the "safest" and "most dangerous" U.S. cities compiled for the last 13 years by Morgan Quitno Press, a tiny, Lawrence, Kan.-based publisher. CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly, Inc., purchased Morgan Quitno in June 2007, and began publishing these rankings this year.





Morgan Quitno's rankings, and now CQ's, are loosely based on the FBI's annual Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) statistics. The UCR program, which dates from the 1930s, gathers crime statistics from thousands of U.S. communities, for the purpose of helping individual communities track their own crime trends and for detecting national patterns.





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



-- 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."

-- 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.





In addition, the FBI became so concerned by the rankings that it posted a disclaimer on the web site where it posts the UCR figures (http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2006/abou...ng_crime.html). The disclaimer reads:





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.





Also, the Conference of Mayors last June passed a resolution critical of the rankings http://usmayors.org/uscm/resolutions...nce/csj_05.asp. The resolution committed the Conference to working with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice "to educate reporters, elected officials, and citizens on what the data means and doesn't mean."





On Oct. 17, the U.S. Conference of Mayors joined the FBI, representatives of the non-profit group Criminal Justice Journalists, and two noted academic criminologists in voicing their concerns about the city-by-city crime rankings to representatives of CQ Press. They asked the publishing firm to suspend publication of the city-by-city rankings, and at a minimum to include the FBI disclaimer in any press releases they issued about the rankings.





"We explained to CQ Press how they are misusing the FBI's annual UCR (Uniform Crime Reports) statistics to create these city crime rankings, but they have persisted in releasing their 'Most Dangerous Cities' list anyway," said Mayor Duffy. "We are disappointed in their decision. These rankings are simply not valid, and they lead to false comparisons that damage our nation's cities."





Contact: Elena Temple

Once again and for the last time - let's pull ourselves out of this report.

Grover wrote:
Once again and for the last time - let's pull ourselves out of this report.




We want to be #1 again!

Yes, this study is somewhat bogus, but the idea that STL gets a bad rap in these surveys because it can't annex its suburbs is baloney, too. Yeah, the cities of Dallas, Indianapolis and Houston contain vast areas that we'd consider suburban, but plenty of other cities don't, and don't have anything near our high rankings on crime.

According to the Census, at 61.9 square miles, St. Louis is the 109th largest city in land mass out of 239 cities with populations over 100,000 people. Cities smaller than ours but of comparable or bigger population include DC, St. Petersburg, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Boston, San Francisco, Miami, Newark, Providence and Hartford.



http://www.census.gov/statab/ccdb/cit1010r.txt



Of those, only Newark and Washington made Quitno's top 25 last year. If political boundaries were the problem, we'd have more company on the list. Poverty and middle-class flight might have more to do with it.



FWIW, Quitno also ranks metro areas and we weren't in the top 25 last year. Detroit was indeed No. 1.

http://www.morganquitno.com/cit07pop.htm#500,000+

stlwriterman wrote:

Of those, only Newark and Washington made Quitno's top 25 last year. If political boundaries were the problem, we'd have more company on the list. Poverty and middle-class flight might have more to do with it.





True. The point is that the arbitrary boundaries that are the City of St. Louis contains an overwhelming proportion of impoverished homes AND an underwhelming proportion of affluent homes. Boston is roughly the same size, but the wealth within the city of Boston is staggering. Much of their impoverished area is outside the Boston city limits.



Anyway, sorry to drag this on . . .

True. If St. Louis's land value were completely rediculous, like San Fran's or Boston's that would lower our crime rate simply by pushing the citie's social problems into the suburbs, where Quitno would never find them.



Something interesting that I'm noticing. Some of the "most dangerous cities" on this list are, in fact, suburbs. Oakland and Richmond are part of the San Francisco Bay Area. Camden is a suburb of Philedelphia. North Charleston is, I would assume, north of Charleston.

^ according to the article it's any city of over 75,000 peepz.

I would argue that crime rates in cities like St. Louis and Detroit have much more to do with population shifts than anything else. St. Louis and Detroit are where they are on this list because so many people left the city. If you picked 200,000 people at random from the St. Louis metro area and dropped them in the city our crime rate would be much lower. I think of most cities as having a certain criminal segment that grows at a relatively steady rate with the growth in population. It's the behavior of the non-criminal element in terms of choosing whether to live in the city or not that really determines the crime rate.

Juice13610 wrote:
^ according to the article it's any city of over 75,000 peepz.




Which explains why we don't see St. Louis suburbs on the safest list. As far as I know, only O'Fallon, Mo. comes close to having 75,000 residents, with Saint Charles and Saint Peters not far behind. What's the largest suburb in Saint Louis County these days- Chesterfield or Florissant? Last time I checked, both had about 50,000 residents. Belleville is the largest in the Illinois metro counties, and I'd be willing to bet all the above suburbs (and others) are every bit as safe as Sugarland, Texas or Brick Township, N.J. 8)

The Central Scrutinizer wrote:

We want to be #1 again!




Wanting is not gonna make it happen, CS. We've got to have action!

trent wrote:
The Central Scrutinizer wrote:

We want to be #1 again!




Wanting is not gonna make it happen, CS. We've got to have action!




I'm doing my part!

We need to use this limited geographic area, per capita thing to our advantage. As the city keeps improving, someday we will see a tipping point and maybe we can start saying things like, "Most restaurants per capita", "Most culture per capita", "Most rail lines per capita", "Most historic renovations per capita", "Most upscale appliances sold per capita" and so on. Perhaps we are already high on some of the positive 'per capita' lists. But, nobody is splashing it around the media. Someday, when there is a tipping point, the small area might be a blessing. Once we are on the positive side, we will out 'per capita' all the other cities that cast a wider net with their boundaries.

Excellent. I like your thinking!!! We've probably openned the largest number of ultra lounges per capita in the past couple years! I don't know if Detroit is gaining population, but if St. Louis City continues to add residents we'll move down the list perhaps. There's also a trend in the area of inner ring suburbs becoming lower income communities. Wellston's already there, but others are suffering with older housing stock/infrastructure/etc. The urban circle of life is likely moving in St. Louis City's favor!

Aviator wrote:
I would argue that crime rates in cities like St. Louis and Detroit have much more to do with population shifts than anything else. St. Louis and Detroit are where they are on this list because so many people left the city. If you picked 200,000 people at random from the St. Louis metro area and dropped them in the city our crime rate would be much lower. I think of most cities as having a certain criminal segment that grows at a relatively steady rate with the growth in population. It's the behavior of the non-criminal element in terms of choosing whether to live in the city or not that really determines the crime rate.




I'd agree.

Someone said above that all the poor, high-crime areas of Greater Boston, for instance, are outside the city. That's really not the case. I grew up there, and, while there are exceptions, most neighborhoods where most crime occurs are actually inside the city limits and contribute to Quitno's stats: Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, East Boston, South Boston, etc. The difference isn't so much property values pushing out the poor (cost of living in Boston is comparable to DC or Chicago. Expensive, sure, but not Manhattan/San Fran expensive), as it is that the city hasn't been abandoned by the middle class to anywhere near the extent that St. Louis or Detroit have, and the ratio of "citizens" to "criminals" is much higher.