Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We're Not # 4!

The annual 24/7 Wall St. study ranking the nation's most dangerous cities drive mayors batty -- at least the mayors of the cities that appear on the list. They complain that the website's analysis distorts FBI statistics and fails to account for other variables. They equate it to junk science. Then they complain that the ranking can carelessly be taken as gospel and find it's way into the mainstream media.

Last year, New Haven was listed as the nations 4th most dangerous city.

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano had nothing to say this year. Well, that's probably because I didn't decided not to write a story about the controversial study this year. And also maybe because New Haven didn't make the top 10 in 2012. Which is interesting given the homicide rate soared to levels not seen since the bad-old-days in the early 1990s.

I kicked around whether to write a story this year. If I wrote one last year shouldn't I do one now that we missed the list. But what if the mistake was writing one last year? Am I perpetuating an error in news judgement if that's the case? Hard to know.

I've always been skeptical when it comes to statistics, anyhow. I remember this legend about the crime rate plummeting in the mid-1990s. Sure it went down nationwide and a federal gang crackdown took a lot of bad people off the street here. But some cops also attributed it to something more calculated.

The city used to have 911 call boxes around the city. They were removed. Now remember this is before everybody had a cell phone and some people in poorer neighborhoods didn't have home phones. So the theory went like this: Crime didn't drop as dramatically as it seemed because more crimes went unreported. Who knows if that's conspiracy theory.

And for the record, junk or not, Flint, Mich., was #1 again this year.


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