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Using FBI Crime Data (from 1999), Nat'l Publisher Ranks Safest U.S. Cities, Puts LB 199 Out of 322 U.S. Cities over 75,000 pop.

Lakewood ranks 124

(March 29, 2001) Using FBI crime data for the last full year available (1999), a national publisher's seventh annual list of "America's Safest Cities" ranks Long Beach 199 among 322 U.S. cities over 75,000 population.

Morgan Quitno Press, a Kansas-based publishing and research company, ranked U.S. cities based on each city’s officially reported rate for six basic crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.

All cities of 75,000+ populations that reported crime data to the FBI for the six crime categories were included and each of the six crimes were given equal weight. Final 1999 FBI statistics (released in Oct. 2000, and thus the last full year available) were used to determine the rankings released by Morgan Quitno in December, 2000.

Morgan Quitno ranked Amherst, NY as ranked the nation's safest city, followed by Mission Viejo, CA. At the bottom of its list was Detroit, MI.

Among the area cities (not a complete list) that Morgan Quitno ranked safer than LB (199) were Irvine (17), Huntington Beach (36), Orange (46), Whittier (48), Fullerton (55), Costa Mesa (73), Torrance (75), Garden Grove (116), Lakewood (124), Santa Ana (147), El Monte (165), Downey (170), Carson (175), Norwalk (177) and South Gate (192).

Among cities ranked less safe than LB were New York City (203), San Francisco (207) and Los Angeles (228).

Morgan-Quitno used city and metro area crime rates per 100,000 population (from the most recent comparable final numbers available, the 1999 annual statistics released by the FBI in October 2000) for six basic crime categories (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft). These were plugged into a formula that measured how a particular city or metro area compared to the national average for a given crime category.

The outcome of this equation was multiplied by a weight assigned to each of the six crime categories with each of the six crimes given equal weight. By weighting each crime equally, cities are compared based purely on their crime rates and how they stack up to the national average for a particular crime category.

These weighted numbers were then added together for a city or metro area’s final score. These scores were then ranked from lowest to highest to determine which cities were safest and most dangerous.

Morgan Quitno says that while the methodology appears rather complicated, it results in fairer treatment because a city or metro area’s crime record is measured against the national average. (Some cities of 75,000+ population, including Chicago and Baltimore, did not report complete crime information and thus were not included.)

Two years ago, LB city officials tried to segregate part of Morgan Quitno's annual data so as to limit comparisons only to cities between 400,000 and 500,000 population. By restricting the comparison in this way, Long Beach appeared to be the nation's second safest city (within this narrow population range) (Virginia Beach, VA. ranked first).

At the time, the Press-Telegram quoted a city staffer who suggested comparing LB to a city with less than 100,000 people or a population of more than 1 million didn't have much meaning since smaller cities will have less crime.

[LBReport comment: Since LB competes with smaller neighboring cities (like Lakewood) to attract businesses and families, comparing LB to its neighboring cities is obviously relevant and LB City Hall's attempt to avoid this is self-embarrassing. If LB City Hall really believes smaller cities are safer, it has made a good argument for ELB residents and businesses to consider independent cityhood or joining with Lakewood.]

When applying LB City Hall's restriction to Morgan Quitno's latest rankings, LB again ranks second (199) to Virginia Beach (44). However, the data disclose a significant difference between the two cities

Morgan Quitno's rankings show whether a city is above or below the average crime rate at the national rate in the six crimes reviewed. A negative score shows the city's average rate in these crimes is below the national rate. A positive score indicates a city's average rate in these crimes is higher than the national rate.

Virginia Beach had a negative (safer) score (above the national rate in the six crimes analyzed) of -45.42. In contrast, LB had a positive (less safe) score (above the national rate in the six crimes analyzed) of +48.70.

Within the narrow 400,00-500,000 population range, LB ranked safer than Fresno (225), Sacramento (233) and nine other out of state cities.

Morgan Quitno's scores in this and last year's rankings were calculated using the same methodology and are comparable. (However, a city's ranking is not necessarily comparable because seven additional cities were considered that were not considered a year earlier and the seven additional cities make a direct comparison of rankings inaccurate.)

Lakewood and LB's scores were both less safe compared to national averages for 1999 than in 1998. Lakewood's score was below the national average in 1998 (-4.20) but slightly above the national average in 1999 (+1.51), a net change in the less safe direction of 5.71.

LB's score also went in a less safe direction compared to national averages, going from +43.90 in 1998 to +48.70 (i.e. both above the national average), a net change in the less safe diretcion of 4.80. notes that Morgan Quitno's data are based on 1999 data (since national 2000 data won't be released until fall 2001) and necessarily rely on citywide crime statistics. As we have pointed out elsewhere, citywide crime data necessarily offset safer areas with less safe areas of any city. readers interested in more timely (year 2000) and detailed (by Council district and LBPD neighborhood size reporting district) LB crime data can access this data on our site. Simply click on: LB crime data .

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