By one measure, Medford, Oregon and Longview, Washington, don’t just have a crime problem, but a big one, says The Oregonian. Both landed high on lists published by the Huffington Post and USA Today of cities with the most explosive growth in violent crime, a whopping 80 percent and 67 percent, respectively. The number-crunching that gave the two Northwest cities such a dubious distinction has ruffled some feathers: The data are wrong, their police departments say. Both cities concede their cities’ violent crime rates rose, but they the analysis blows the increases out of proportion.
“Things are not always as they appear,” said Medford Police Chief Tim George. He said 125 simple assaults were misclassified in 2013 as aggravated assaults and included incidents in which relatively harmless objects such as shoes or water bottles were thrown at someone. The agency did the same with threats where the person wasn’t actually able to follow through on them. That could throw the analysis by 24/7 Wall St., which ranked Medford behind only Bismarck, North Dakota, for the collective growth of murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults from 2009 to 2013. Longview didn’t fare much better with its No. 4 ranking. The financial news website relied on data that should never have been reported to the FBI, George said. That includes the 125 simple assaults, which accounted for 28 percent of the violent crimes Medford police reported in 2013. Medford had no homicides.