Criminologists Decry “Dangerous” And “Safe” City Rankings


Leading criminologists have spoken out against use of crime data collected by the FBI for labeling American cities as “dangerous” or “safe.” Meeting in Atlanta for the group’s annual convention, the American Society of Criminology’s executive board called such rankings “invalid, damaging, and irresponsible.” The latest set of rankings is due out soon from Morgan Quitno, a Kansas-based publisher recently purchased by Congressional Quarterly.

The criminologists argued that the “dangerous” and “safe” labels “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 criminology society urged the news media “to subject city crime rankings to scientifically sound evaluation and will make crime experts available to assist in this vital public responsibility.” Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis has published a list of metropolitan area homicide and violent crime rankings at In addition, a group of criminologists have published homicide rankings of major cities with other crime-related factors taken into account at


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