What do big-city mayors, criminologists, the FBI and the head of Criminal Justice Journalists have in common, asks the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. They’ve all had it with an annual publication that ranks U.S. cities by danger. The city danger rankings, issued for 13 years by Morgan Quitno, of Kansas (now owned by Congressional Quarterly) 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. Last night, the report for 2006 named Detroit most dangerous city in a squeaker over St. Louis. (Mission Viejo, Ca., was named safest city.)
The rankings are based on annual crime statistics published by the FBI. The bureau 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.