CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago was left out of an analysis of the most dangerous cities in America, due to a disagreement between the state of Illinois and the FBI on how crime is reported.
The publisher CQ Press analyzed cities of 75,000 or more residents across the country, using statistics released by the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program for 2009. The rankings were calculated based on six categories – murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.
Many were quick to notice that Chicago wasn’t on the list.
“Publisher CQ Press released its list of the most dangerous cities in America and — shock of shocks — Chicago is nowhere to be found on the list,” the blog Chicagoist reported. “We had to double check that list ourselves. Surely, Police Superintendent Jody Weis, if he’s aware of the list, is saying “I told you so” right now.”
But look at the last page of the tabulated rankings and you’ll notice Chicago is marked with an “N/A.” This is because the data collection methods used for reporting forcible rape in Illinois do not meet the FBI guidelines. The same goes for Minnesota.
Thus, with the exception of Rockford, Minneapolis and St. Paul, no cities in Illinois or Minnesota made the list.
St. Louis, Mo., topped the rankings as the nation’s most dangerous city in the study. Following the Gateway City were Camden, N.J.; Detroit, Mich.; Flint, Mich.; Oakland, Calif.; Richmond, Calif.; Cleveland, Ohio; Compton, Calif.; Gary, Ind.; and Birmingham, Ala.
At the bottom of the list, Colonie, N.Y., a suburb of Albany, was ranked the safest city in the country.
With Chicago off the list, the dispute continues as to how dangerous the city really is. Last month, and in the past several months, police Supt. Weis has shown official statistics that indicate crime is dropping.
Earlier this month, Weis reported that crime was down 3.7 percent in October compared to last year during the same period. Property and violent crimes also both dropped, Weis said.
In releasing the October statistics, Weis also noted that a total of 379 murders through the end of October was lower than figures recorded during the same period in previous years, including 2007, which closed with the lowest murder total in the city since 1965.
But not everyone believes those statistics – including some within the Police Department. The anonymous Chicago Police officer behind the Second City Cop blog said last month that officers are “busier than ever” and “counting two or more trips a night to the local hospitals to take ‘man shot’ reports.”
Second City Cop has also criticized the method used to report crime, which counts incidents instead of victims.
The blog referenced a Nov. 11 column by Meghan A. Dwyer of the Northwestern University Medill News Service. Dwyer set out to find out the total number of people shot in Chicago in the past year, only to discover that “if five people are shot in a club, it’s recorded as a single incident even though a minimum of five shots were fired.” Dwyer also learned that incidents where guns are fired, but no one is hit, are not classified as shootings.
Second City Cop indicated that these methods cast doubt on official statistics.
“You think our readers might be on to something when they comment about the sharp pencils and even sharper erasers currently in use downtown by J-Fled and his merry men?” Second City Cop said. “Twenty-two consecutive months of crime reduction? Keep drinking the Kool-Aid, kids.”