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Monday, November 19, 2007

National Crime Rankings: Ohio Has 4 Of The 'Most Dangerous' Cities

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- A new ranking of the nation's "most dangerous" 25 cities based on serious crime data compiled by the FBI last year puts four in Ohio -- the worst record of any state. Cleveland is No. 10; Youngstown is 15; Cincinnati is 16 and Dayton is 19. The data portrays the Ohio cities as far more dangerous places than even Philadelphia, Atlanta and Newark, which have a history of leading the U.S. in murders.

The copyrighted list is being published by CQ Press and is not available online yet. The Daily Bellwether purchased a copy overnight and it was delivered by e-mail. CQ said its research found that Mission Viejo, Cal., is the nation's safest city and Detroit is the most dangerous for the second straight year. Here are the worst 25:

1 Detroit. 2 St. Louis. 3 Flint, Mi. 4 Oakland, Cal. 5 Camden, NJ. 6 Birmingham, Ala. 7 North Charleston, S.C. 8 Memphis 9 Richmond, Cal., 10 Cleveland, 11 Orlando, 12 Baltimore, 13 Little Rock, 14 Compton, Cal. 15 Youngstown, 16 Cincinnati 17 Gary, Ind. 18 Kansas City, Mo. 19 Dayton. 20 Newark, NJ. 21 Philadelphia. 22 Atlanta. 23 Jackson, Ms. 24 Buffalo. 25 Kansas City, Kan.

Columbus comes in as the nation's 47th most dangerous city, Toledo is 46th and Canton 42nd. Akron did not submit data.

A CQ Press media release offers a bit of information about the crime data and describes how it can be ordered online.

CQ Press reported that all crimes are weighted equally and they include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft. It said the results are added together then plugged into a formula that yields a final score for each city.

"Our survey includes all cities with a population of 75,000 or more that reported data to the FBI for the six categories of crime. Any city or metro area missing data was disqualified from the competition. Chicago, Minneapolis and other cities in Illinois and Minnesota are among the major cities not included in the competition this year due to data collection discrepancies. Community safety is a top concern for most Americans and our Safest City and Metro area crime rankings generate more controversy than any of our other surveys. Our hope is that these rankings bring about a meaningful debate among citizens, community leaders, and police regarding crime in the United States."

Some of the debate has already started. On Sunday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors attacked the list of "most dangerous cities" as distorted and damaging.

Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy, a former police chief and chairman of the mayors' criminal and social justice committee, said the FBI has posted a disclaimer on its Web site warning that variables about the crime counts can create misleading perceptions. Duffy contends the rankings can wreck a city's reputation.

"These rankings are based on the misuse of FBI data. 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 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."

Others see the rankings as presenting a fairly accurate picture of crime across the country -- few would call cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati or St. Louis models of public safety. The mayors' disapproval is seen as spin, and aggressive defense. In June, the mayors' conference passed a resolution condemning the rankings, and last month they urged CQ not to publish its annual list.

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