Each year the FBI publishes crime data collected from U.S. cities. In recent years, however, private interests have taken that data and misused it to mislead the American people about the safety of American cities. Mayors are convinced that this inaccurate reporting of cities’ crime data by unofficial and unreliable sources damages cities, unnecessarily alarms residents and visitors, and hurts efforts to attract new investment.
To respond to these concerns, The U.S. Conference of Mayors has called on the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division to work with the Conference to develop a joint working group to establish a new system for the management and release of crime data, and to educate reporters, elected officials and citizens on what the data means, and doesn’t mean.
The Crime Statistics Working Group is led by Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy and St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. This Web page provides links to resources identified by the Working Group which may be helpful to mayors and other city officials faced with problems relating the private interpretation of city crime data.
CONFERENCE OF MAYORS MATERIALS
- Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Robert J. Casey, Section Chief, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, (304) 625-3690 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Richard Klofas, Chair of Criminal Justice, Rochester Institute of Technology, email@example.com
Professor Richard Rosenfeld, Curator’s Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri – St. Louis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ted Gest, President, Criminal Justice Journalists, email@example.com
- The Most Dangerous Crime Rankings, by Richard Rosenfeld and Janet L. Laurensen, Contexts Magazine, Winter 2008
- Excerpts from Several Relevant Newspaper Articles
Some Call Dangerous City Ratings a Crime, Washington Post, November 21, 2007
If the FBI has said it once, it has said it a thousand times: Do not use its crime statistics to rank the nation’s most dangerous cities.
Blame the Messenger? Sure We Can, Detroit Free-Press, November 21, 2007
City officials said Monday that Detroit is the victim of a private research group’s “skewed methodology” of comparing FBI crime statistics, after landing the annual label of the most dangerous community in the nation.
Not No. 1 on This List, and Glad of It, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 19, 2007
You’re not comparing apples and oranges,” FBI statistics chief Rob Casey told The Associated Press. “You’re comparing watermelons and grapes.”
That sounds about right, considering major cities such as Detroit and Cleveland are ranked along with similar places such as North Charleston, S.C. and Richmond, Calif. It seems logical to question whether crime statistics alone paint the accurate picture of a city’s overall safety level.
‘Crime’ Fighters, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 18, 2007
Criminologists, critical of Morgan Quinto’s methodology, have increasingly tried to steer reporters away from the rankings and toward what they consider smarter analyses of crime stats.
Last week, the executive board of the American Society of Criminology issued a statement condemning crime rankings as “irresponsible misuse of data.”