(November 22, 2004) -- Using official FBI crime data for six basic crime categories (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault & motor vehicle theft) for the most recent complete year available (2003 data, released in Oct. 2004), a national publisher's annual list of America's Safest Cities shows LB continues to rank less safe than the national average, less safe than New York City (for the fourth year in a row) and less safe than adjoining Lakewood and several other OC cities.
However, LB was considerably safer statistically than Los Angeles, which fell even further in safety in 2003 when compared to other cities nationwide.
In cities over 75,000 population, LB ranked 216 (out of 350) while Santa Monica ranked 155 and New York City is 156. L.A. is ranked 291.
Nearby Lakewood ranked 128 (safer than the national average). Huntington Beach was 36; Irvine ranked 11th and Mission Viejo was 4th in safety nationwide.
The data, compiled annually by Morgan Quitno Press, a Lawrence, Kansas-based publishing and research company, shows Newton, MA was the nation's safest city...and Camden, NJ was the nation's most dangerous (displacing Detroit, now second from the bottom).
Morgan Quitno uses the FBI's six basic crime categories to derive each city's crime rates per 100,000 population, then plugs the data into a formula that measures how a city fares compared to the national average. The result is multiplied by a weight assigned to each of the six crime categories; each of the six crime categories is given equal weight, producing a comparison based solely on crime rates and how cities compare to the national average. Each city's final score is ranked from lowest to highest (safest to most dangerous).
LB's score for 2003 was 47.37, higher than the national average (which would be "0") but better than 60.32 which LB had in 2002. By comparison, NYC's 2003 score was 10.47 (slightly higher than national average), an improvement over its 14.80 score in 2002.
Lakewood, CA's 2003 score was -6.22 (less than zero and thus below the national average)...but less safe than its 2002 score of -21.32.
As with any "citywide" crime statistics, each city's figure is a composite that includes the safest and least safe areas of each city.
LB scores (and others) in 2002 and 2003 can be compared (since they used the same methodology), but LB's safety ranking this year (216) can't be directly compared to last year's ranking (236) because the total number of reporting cities is slightly different (some new cities are in, some old ones didn't report).
Morgan Quitno acknowledges that crime levels "are affected by many different factors, such as population density, composition of the population (particularly the concentration of youth), climate, economic conditions, strength of local law enforcement agencies, citizenís attitudes toward crime, cultural factors, education levels, crime reporting practices of citizens and family cohesiveness.
However the firm also points out that criticizing crime data on these grounds "is largely based on the fact that there are reasons for the differences in crime rates, not that the rates are incompatible. This would be somewhat akin to deciding not to compare athletes on their speed in the 100-yard dash because of physical or training differences. Such differences help explain the different speeds but do not invalidate the comparisons."