The U.S. Conference of Mayors has assailed the latest city-by-city crime rankings by CQ Press as “a premeditated statistical mugging of America's cities.” CQ Press, a division of Sage publishers, says its analysis of data reported by cities to the FBI shows that St. Louis has the highest crime rate of 400 cities and Colonie, N.Y., the lowest. “These rankings represent a gross misuse of FBI data,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker, chair of the mayors’ Criminal and Social Justice Committee.
Parker said the rankings “do real harm to the reputation and economy of the cities that come out on the losing end, often through no fault of their own.” The mayors and other critics say cities differ in ways that have nothing to do with their crime risk, but that can greatly affect their ranking. Pure geographic happenstance – the location of the boundary line separating “city” and “suburb” – is one. Cities that are geographically small and that therefore do not include as many middle-class areas as larger cities are penalized, Cities differ in the degree to which their citizens report crimes and in how crime is reported. How much of the difference between two cities’ crime ranks is real and how much reflects differences in measurement and reporting systems is not known. Knowing the city in which a person lives shows little about his or her crime risk, especially when compared with genuine risk factors such as age, lifestyle, and the neighborhood within a given city where that person lives.