Crime & Courts

Rankings list Wichita 94th in nation for danger

Wichita is the 94th most dangerous city in America, a new ranking of city crime rates found.

Or you could call it the 307th safest.

Or maybe it's neither.

The CQ Press, which has been publishing rankings of the nation's largest cities for more than a decade, found that St. Louis was the most dangerous city in the United States last year. That city recorded 2,070 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2009.

CQ Press, the publishing arm of Congressional Quarterly, said its survey was based on each city's per capita rate of six crimes — murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft.

The crime figures come from the FBI's 2009 "Crime in the United States" report, which was released this fall.

CQ Press assigned each city a score based on how far it finished above or below the national average.

Colonie, N.Y., a suburb of Albany, earned the lowest crime ranking by recording 78 violent crimes per 100,000 residents last year.

Wichita, which had 882 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2009, ranked 94th from the top in the list of cities with 75,000 or more residents.

In general, the cities with the largest populations had the most violent crime and ranked highest on the CQ Press list.

Of the 400 cities listed, Wichita had the 50th largest population.

The CQ Press acknowledged in a news release that its rankings are controversial.

It noted that crime rates are affected by such factors as population density, climate, economic conditions, educational levels and crime reporting practices.

But, the news release said, "City Crime Rankings helps concerned Americans learn how their communities fare in the fight against crime by providing accessible, straightforward data which citizens can use and understand."

When it released its 2009 crime figures this fall, the FBI cautioned, "Each year when 'Crime in the United States' is published, some entities use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region."

Erica Van Ross, spokeswoman for the St. Louis Police Department, called the CQ Press rankings irresponsible.

"Crime is based on a variety of factors," she said. "It's based on geography, it's based on poverty, it's based on the economy.

"That is not to say that urban cities don't have challenges, because we do. But it's irresponsible to use the data in this way."