Saturday, October 31, 2009

OOPS ! That's Different Then, Never Mind !

Well color the 25th floor embarrassed ! Seems Mayor Greg Ballard's press release bragging about Indy being included in Forbes' list of the 40 safest Metropolitan Areas was a tad premature. Turns out the Indianapolis metropolitan area ranks 36th out of the 40 largest such areas in the Country when statistics for the combination of violent crime rate, workplace fatalities (hey ! we're the worst in this category !), traffic deaths (we rank 26th), and natural disaster risk (we rank 19th).

Gary Welsh over at Advance Indiana has already noted the Star article in today's edition, byline by Tom Spalding. At least Tom read the Forbes list before just publishing the Mayor's press release which the Star has posted on its website.

I went to the Forbes list and broke it down by 2008 violent crime rate alone, where Indianapolis metropolitan area comes in 30th of the 40 largest. Here is the ranking for that category:

Violent Crime
Metro Area MSA Population
1 Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA2,207,462
2 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA1,819,198
3 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA3,344,813
4 Austin-Round Rock, TX 1,652,602
5 Denver-Aurora, CO2,506,626
6 Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA1,596,611
7 Pittsburgh, PA 2,351,19
8 Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN2,155,137
9 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI3,229,878
10 Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH4,522,858
11 New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA19,006,798
12 Columbus, OH 1,773,120
13 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC 1,658,292
14 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA 3,001,072
15 Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH2,088,291
16 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV 5,358,130
17 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 4,281,899
18 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA 4,115,871
19 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX 6,300,006
20 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA 5,376,285
21 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA 12,872,808
22 Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville, CA 2,109,832
23 St. Louis, MO-IL 2,816,710
24 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI1,549,308
25 San Antonio, TX 2,031,445
26 Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI 9,569,624
27 Kansas City, MO-KS 2,002,047
28 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD 5,838,471
29 San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA 4,274,531
30 Indianapolis-Carmel, IN 1,715,459
31 Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC 1,701,799
32 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL 2,733,761
33 Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX 5,728,143
34 Baltimore-Towson, MD 2,667,117
35 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL 5,414,772
36 Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN 1,550,733
37 Jacksonville, FL 1,313,228
38 Orlando-Kissimmee, FL 2,054,574
39 Las Vegas-Paradise, NV 1,865,746
40 Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI 4,425,110

I pulled down the 2008 FBI report on the number of violent crimes for a few rather random Cities across the US. Note the Forbes ranking is for Metropolitan areas, not just the major City in that area. Using the population data and the number of violent crimes, I calculated the number of violent crimes per 1000 people. All other numbers are from the FBI report. The cities are arranged alphabetically in the next table. If you'd like to peruse the entire list yourself it is found at : 2008 FBI Crime Statistics data set

per 1000 people
Los Angeles3,850,92026,5536.9
New York8,345,07548,4305.8
San Francisco798,1446,7448.4

CityMurder and
Los Angeles38494913,42211,798
New York52389022,18624,831
San Francisco981664,1082,372

The FBI Uniform Crime Report does caution about comparing different cities crime rates as these are self-reported numbers. But, they are also the best information we have. In the Star article Robert Vane, spokesman for Mayor Ballard, reiterated the claim that the Indianapolis crime rate has dropped 6% since Ballard took over in January of 2008; but no details have been forthcoming. The FBI has not yet released its report for 2009, so we also have no benchmarks for comparisons.

At the end of the day, the Ballard administration's over eagerness to bathe itself in self-congratulations is an excuse for us to look at the success or failure of our City's crime prevention efforts through a broader lens than we normally do. It is of concern that we rank worst of the 40 largest metropolitan areas for deaths on the job. That should be a wake-up call. It is of concern that New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington DC (of all places) metro areas are all 'safer' than the Indy area when it comes to violent crime. I guess the question is, does the Mayor look at crime the same way? Or is his administration cherry picking the statistics that show his efforts in their best light? Just like they were trying to do by celebrating our ranking on the Forbes list.


Paul K. Ogden said...

My understanding is that it is a list of the 40th safetest metro areas, and we rank 36th. I don't think it's 100% accurate to say this is a list of the 40 largest metro areas and we rank 36th. There could be larger metro areas, that don't rank in the 40th top safest cities.

I don't put a lot of stock in these types of surveys regardless.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Well Paul, that's what the Mayor's office thought, too, when it put out the press release.

But, the list IS of the 40 largest metro areas ranked in order of safety. So the bottom line is that of the 40 largest metro areas, we rank 36 by Forbes Magazine computation of safety.