DETROIT – In another blow to the Motor City`s tarnished image, Detroit pushed past St. Louis to become the nation`s most dangerous city, according to a private research group`s controversial analysis, released Sunday, of annual FBI crime statistics.
The study drew harsh criticism even before it came out. The American Society of Criminology launched a pre-emptive strike Friday, issuing a statement attacking it as “an irresponsible misuse” of crime data.
The 14th annual “City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America” was published by CQ Press, a unit of Congressional Quarterly Inc. It is based on the FBI`s Sept. 24 crime statistics report.
The report looked at 378 cities with at least 75,000 people based on per-capita rates for homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft.
Each crime category was considered separately and weighted based on its seriousness, CQ Press said.
Last year`s crime leader, St. Louis, fell to No. 2. Another Michigan city, Flint, ranked third, followed by Oakland, Calif.; Camden, N.J.; Birmingham, Ala.; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Richmond, Calif.; and Cleveland, which was ranked the 10th most dangerous city.
Three other Ohio cities made the Top 25 list: Youngstown was No. 15, Cincinnati was No. 16 and Dayton was No. 19.
The study ranked Mission Viejo, Calif., as the safest U.S. city, followed by Clarkstown, N.Y.; Brick Township, N.J.; Amherst, N.Y.; and Sugar Land, Texas. Parma, a suburban Cleveland city, was ranked 23rd.
CQ Press spokesman Ben Krasney said details of the weighting system were proprietary. It was compiled by Kathleen O`Leary Morgan and Scott Morgan, whose Morgan Quitno Press published it until its acquisition by CQ Press.
The study assigns a crime score to each city, with zero representing the national average. Detroit got a score of 407, while St. Louis followed at 406.
The score for Mission Viejo, in affluent Orange County, was minus 82.
Detroit was pegged the nation`s murder capital in the 1980s and has lost nearly 1 million people since 1950, according to the Census Bureau. Downtown sports stadiums and corporate headquarters – along with the redevelopment of the riverfront of this city of 919,000 – have slowed but not reversed the decline. Officials have said crime reports don`t help.
Detroit Deputy Police Chief James Tate had no immediate comment on the report. But the mayor of 30th-ranked Rochester, N.Y. – an ex-police chief himself – said the study`s authors should consider the harm that the report causes.
“What I take exception to is the use of these statistics and the damage they inflict on a number of these cities,” said Mayor Robert Duffy, chairman of the Criminal and Social Justice Committee for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.