The label of “America’s Most Dangerous City” bestowed upon Camden, N.J., last year helped kill a downtown hotel proposal, contributed to a decrease in enrollment at Rutgers University, and slowed the line of developers interested in building in the city, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Crime is down, but Camden is fearful that it will receive the dubious distinction for a second year in a row. Kansas-based Morgan Quitno base the rankings on year-old data – meaning Camden will be evaluated not on its current climate, but on 2004 statistics that included a sharp spike in homicides. “It’s like someone bringing up something that happened to you in high school,” Camden County Prosecutor Vincent Sarubbi said. “It doesn’t bear any relevance to the current status of crime in the city.” Last week, Sarubbi asked Morgan Quitno for a disclaimer on the city’s future rating. A company spokesperson said: “We will not give Camden an asterisk. We long ago decided that the numbers are what they are, and we leave it to others to explain them.” The new list will be released Nov. 21.
Jon’a Meyer, a professor of criminology at Rutgers-Camden who lives in the city, said the “most dangerous” title was misleading. “I used to live in Irvine, Calif., which at one time was the ‘safest,’ according to Morgan Quitno,” Meyer said. Now, she said she feels safer living in Camden, because the little violence in Irvine “was random.” “The violence we have here is by people who know one another. I don’t live in utter fear because I don’t hang out with drug dealers.” In the Morgan Quitno rankings, each of six major crimes – homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft – is given equal weight. Morgan Quitno determines the national rate per 100,000 for each crime category, then determines each city’s rate per 100,000.