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    LB and L.A. Again Worse Than NYC And Several Southland Cities In '05 Reported Violent Crimes Per Capita; Lakewood Better Than Average; Mission Viejo Third Best; Compton Fourth Worst

    (October 30, 2006) -- Using FBI crime statistics to calculate the safety of U.S. cities in terms of violent crimes per population, Long Beach and Los Angeles again ranked worse than the national average in 2005 (the last full year for which stats are available)...although L.A. County's two biggest cities had better (safer) relative rankings compared to other cities nationally than the year before.

    The annual rankings, based on officially FBI-released crime stats, were released by Morgan-Quitno Press and show Long Beach ranked 211, and L.A. ranked 250, out of 371 U.S. cities (over 75,000 population) in terms of violent crime per capita. Lakewood ranked 111, better than the national average.

    LB and L.A. had more violent crime citywide than many southland cities...some of which ranked among the safest cities nationally: Mission Viejo (3 nationally, best in CA), Irvine (7), Thousand Oaks (11), Lake Forest (15), Simi Valley (17), Chino Hills (21), Huntington Beach (29), Orange (30), Santa Clarita (34) and Torrance (43).

    The rankings are based on a city's citywide 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 in the rankings. Last year's (2004) rankings showed LB at 241, and L.A. at 290, out of 363 U.S. cities.

    Other cities with less violent crime per capita than LB in 2005 included Buena Park (103), Westminster (109), Lakewood (111), Garden Grove (121), Whittier (125), Pasadena (129), Anaheim (135), West Covina (143).

    New York City -- whose ranking grew safer under former Mayor Rudi Giulliani while LB's ranking fell under former LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill -- ranked 145 (nearly the average nationally).

    Other area cities statistically safer than LB: El Monte (163), Santa Ana (170), Santa Monica (171), Norwalk (177), Downey (179), Carson (187) and South Gate (205).

    Among those ranked statistically less safe than LB were Hawthorne (214), Bellflower (252), San Francisco (270), Inglewood (310), Sacramento (322) and Oakland (364).

    Brick, NJ was ranked America's Safest City (#1) with the fewest violent crimes per capita in 2005. Compton CA was ranked fourth worst nationwide (368)...and St. Louis ranked worst nationwide (371).

    The rankings for all cities -- including LB at 211 -- are based on citywide crime statistics...which necessarily homogenize the most safe and least safe areas of every city.

    Morgan Quitno Press says the following about its methodology:

    ...First, 2005 city and metro area crime rates per 100,000 population (the most recent comparable final numbers available, released by the FBI in September 2006) for six basic crime categories — murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft — 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 then multiplied by a weight assigned to each of the six crime categories. Each of the six crimes was 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 then were added together for a city or metro area’s final score. Finally, these scores were ranked from lowest to highest to determine which cities and metropolitan areas were safest and most dangerous.

    While this methodology appears rather complicated, it results in fairer treatment because a city or metro area’s crime record is measured against the national average. The farther below the national average, the higher (and better) a city or metro ranked in the final Safest Cities and Metros list; the farther above the national average, the lower (and worse) a city or metro ranked in the final list.

    ...Morgan Quitno’s annual rankings of crime in states, metro areas and cities are considered by some in the law enforcement community as controversial.

    The FBI, police and many criminologists caution against rankings according to crime rates. They correctly point out 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, citizen’s attitudes toward crime, cultural factors, education levels, crime reporting practices of citizens and family cohesiveness. Accordingly, crime rankings often are deemed “simplistic” or “incomplete.” However, this criticism 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.

    To be sure, crime-ranking information must be considered carefully. However the rankings tell not only an interesting, but also very important story regarding the incidence of crime in the United States. Furthermore, annual rankings not only allow for comparisons among different states and cities, but also enable leaders to track their communities’ crime trends from one year to the next.

    We certainly do not want to be irresponsible in our presentation of state and city crime data. Our publications help concerned Americans learn how their communities fare in the fight against crime. The first step in making our cities and states safer is to understand the true magnitude of their crime problems. This will only be achieved through straightforward data that all of us can use and understand.

    In February 1994, a Long Beach City Hall LBPD "Strategic Plan" recommended annual officer increases to reach a budgeted level of 1,023 sworn officers by FY 2000. Entering FY 2007, LB taxpayers still do not receive this police level.

    During the O'Neill administration, multiple City Councils basically approved management budgets forwarded to them without dissent by the now-former Mayor.

    The budgets did include some officer increases...but fewer than needed to keep pace with growth and density that City Hall simultaneously invited.

    LB taxpayers today receive fewer than 2.0 sworn officers per thousand population (after Port, LB Airport, LBCC, LBUSD and Carmelitos paid/tasked officers, which aren't available for neighborhoods, are deducted).

    During the recent election cycle, then-candidate, now-Mayor Bob Foster pledged to add 100 officers during his first term of office. His first proposed budget (FY 07), received from management a few weeks after he took office, didn't recommend additional budgeted neighborhood officers...and the City Council approved it in Sept. 2006 without dissent.

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