In a private firm’s 15th annual ranking of cities by crime rate, New Orleans comes out on top, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. St. Louis – still trying to shake the “most dangerous city” tag from two years ago – would drop to the fourth-highest. Publisher CQ Press says the yearly release gets people to pay attention to crime. Criminologists and mayors, especially those whose cities have finished poorly, have lambasted it as being baseless and damaging. The rankings are based on the previous year’s crime statistics, published by the FBI. The bureau itself warns the data should not be used for city-to-city comparisons because cities compile statistics differently. The FBI’s data “isn’t flawless, but it’s the most comprehensive collection of crime data we have in the United States,” said Doug Goldenberg-Hart of CQ Press.
Despite the controversy over the report, neither CQ Press nor SAGE Publications, the unit’s new owner, made changes to the methodology. It no longer is calling the highest-ranking jurisdiction the “most dangerous,” however. The No. 1 ranking for New Orleans illustrates the post-Katrina reality that the population has shrunk by half, but crime persists. The ranking “adds insult to injury to a city that has been battered by natural and social events over the past few years,” said criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. It would be “plainly irresponsible given what the city has gone through.”