Erroneous crime statistics propelled St. Louis to its best finish in recent years in a report due out today that ranks the nation’s most dangerous cities, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The city finished fourth most dangerous, but it should have been third. Crime experts don’t put much stock in the annual report by Morgan Quitno, a research firm based in Lawrence, Kan. says the newspaper. St. Louis is just two years removed from the public relations nightmare of being crowned most dangerous city with at least 75,000 residents. Mayor Francis Slay’s chief of staff, Jeff Rainford, says, “We think not only is (the report) useless, but it is counterproductive. St. Louis has high-crime areas, but the vast majority of our neighborhoods are safe.” Morgan Quitno are “charlatans,” Rainford said, and the ranking is “inaccurate, unfair and actually does damage to cities all over the country.” This year, the ignominy goes to Camden, N.J., a city of 80,000 across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Next were Detroit and Atlanta, said Scott Morgan, the company president.
Morgan was unaware that St. Louis police omitted 5,760 crimes from their 2003 crime data. Provided with the correct data, Morgan found that St. Louis would have switched places with Atlanta. The police corrected the error too late to include the data in the FBI’s annual crime survey, which Morgan Quitno uses as its only source. The firm scored cities against national averages in each category and added the scores, weighing each crime the same. The report “does result in some serious discussion taking place,” Morgan said. “Mostly we get slammed as being irrelevant or clueless. But no matter how much a city may protest, the numbers are what they are. It forces a discussion to take place as to why we’re as bad as we are.”