The rankings are based on 2009 crime stats, available for cities throughout the United States thanks to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.
City officials, as usual, will remind us that the FBI cautions against ranking cities based on crime statistics, dismiss the report as misleading (PDF), and remind us that crime is mostly concentrated in certain parts of town.
All of this, of course, completely misses the point, which is that crime in Oakland is simply too high. Of course a number ranking based on some formula (PDF) using data that has limitations of its own (PDF) does not paint a complete picture of the relative merits and flaws of every city in the US. I don’t think anyone would pretend it does. Of course a per capita rating for the entire City doesn’t reflect the fact that there are neighborhoods with less crime and neighborhoods with more crime. But I have always failed to see how that matters. I mean, I’ve never been, but I assume that St. Louis has nice parts of town too.
But the fact that since 2005, Oakland has been playing musical chairs at the top of the list every year with St. Louis and Detroit and Camden should be cause for concern. I, for one, welcome the loud annual reminder that when it comes to the amount of violent crime that goes on in Oakland, we are not in the type of company that we want to be keeping. So yes, it is good that reported crime compared to last year is down. And it is good that it is also down from the year before that.
But the fact remains, people are constantly getting killed on our streets, and despite recent progress, we have a really long way to go before we’re we want to be in terms of public safety in this Oakland.
Anyway. Here’s the top 10 from this year’s city crime rankings (PDF):
- St. Louis, MO
- Camden, NJ
- Detroit, MI
- Flint, MI
- Oakland, CA
- Richmond, CA
- Cleveland, OH
- Compton, CA
- Gary, IN
- Birmingham, AL
And if you’re wondering how other cities stacked up? Check it out here: