Lakewood safer than LB and national average; L.A. and Compton worse than LB
(December 29, 2002) -- Applying official FBI crime data for the last full year available (2001), a national publisher's ninth annual list of America's Safest Cities shows LB is less safe than the national average, and worse than several area cities, in six serious crime categories totaled for statistical comparison.
In a statistical ranking of 342 U.S. cities over 75,000 population, with city "1" (Amherst, NY) ranked safest and city "342" (St. Louis, MO) ranked most dangerous, LB ranked 212.
This marks the second year in a row that LB under Mayor Beverly O'Neill has ranked less safe in murder, rape, robbery, aggravate assault, burglary and motor theft than New York City under now former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Morgan Quitno's annual rankings were derived using officially reported FBI crime statistics in the six crime categories above, using methodology (described below) that allows a city's crime record to be measured against the national average.
At 212, LB ranked less safe than the national average in total murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor theft...and less safe than New York City at 166. NYC under Mayor Giuliani was not far above the national average even with 8 million people.
Among the southern California cities ranked safer than LB (and below the national average) in the six measured crime categories were Thousand Oaks (4) Mission Viejo (9), Lake Forest (10), Irvine (12), Huntington Beach (29), Glendale (46), Burbank (73), Buena Park (80), Whittier (84), Costa Mesa (92), Westminster (101), Anaheim (103) and Garden Grove (107).
Lakewood ranked 109, also below the national average. Downey ranked 135, slightly safer than the national average.
Among area cities ranked above the national average, but still safer than LB: Santa Ana (153), El Monte (169), Santa Monica (171), Carson (183) and South Gate (185).
Among those ranked less safe than LB (212) were Riverside (217), Pomona (234), Hawthorne (235), Sacramento (266), Fresno (275), Los Angeles (282) and Compton (336).
As noted below, Morgan Quitno's methodology makes it inaccurate to directly compare LB's latest 2001 ranking with its rank last year (there are more cities in the 2001 rankings than 2000). However, on the bright side, when measured against itself, LB was not as far above the national average in the measured crimes in 2001 as it was in 2000 (+52.40 for 2000, +46.96 for 2001).
We also add our own caveat. FBI crime data (on which the rankings are based) are citywide statistics. This means the real world situation being experienced by residents of some LB neighborhoods is almost certainly worse than indicated by the numbers (because citywide data offset high crime numbers in less safe areas with low numbers from safer areas). Additionally, it is a matter of record that some LB 2002 violent crimes (like murder) have increased since 2001.
In previous years, LB City Hall has tried to "slice and dice" the data to compare LB only to cities within the narrow range between 400,000 and 500,000 population; doing so produces a result portraying LB ranked "number two" nationally to Virginia Beach (in 2001, ranked 49).
We consider City Hall's past attempts to do this a clumsy attempt to finagle the data. Morgan Quitno's rankings clearly show whether a city is above or below the national average in the six crimes reviewed. A score of "0.00" would reflect an average crime rate at the national rate in the six crimes reviewed. A negative score shows a city's rate is below the national rate in these crimes. A positive score shows a city's rate is above the average rate in these crimes.
Virginia Beach has a negative (safer) score of (-44.22), meaning it ranks lower (better) than the national rate in the six crimes analyzed. In contrast, LB had a higher (less safe) score of (+46.96), meaning it ranks higher than the national average in the six crimes analyzed. The difference between Virginia Beach, which is below the national average, and LB, which is above it, is a statistical gulf.
Moreover, attempting to restrict comparisons to cities within a narrow population class, as LB City Hall has previously tried to do, also makes no statistical sense. Morgan Quitno's methodology derives each city's crime ranking per population...so statistically, city size shouldn't matter. The contention that it's unfair to compare LB to smaller cities is also undercut by the fact that some cities much larger than LB -- including New York City -- rank safer than LB.
Finally, since LB competes with neighboring (smaller) cities (like Lakewood) to attract businesses and families, comparing LB to smaller neighboring cities is clearly appropriate. (Contending smaller cities are inherently safer invites residents and businesses to choose to locate elsewhere.)
Morgan Quitno's web site provides the following information about its methodology and comparisons: