Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are crime rankings accurate?

The Wall Street Journal published two articles last week on the latest CQ Press crime rankings. The December 4 article reported such rankings can be flawed due to cities different classifications of criminal activity and geographical area. A city may receive an artificial boost because only the city is included while another one is pushed further down the list because it includes its "metro area" or surrounding suburbs (St. Louis was a good example of this discrepancy.).

"When CQ Press's City Crime Rankings were published last week, they prompted headlines nationwide, particularly in cities that ranked near the top or bottom. The rankings showed that Detroit had the country's highest crime rate among the largest cities, while El Paso was the least dangerous.

But critics say such comparisons are meaningless. Cities differ markedly in how tightly their borders are drawn around their inner core, and how much of outlying areas are included within city limits can have a big effect on crime levels. The rankings are based only on reported crime, and reporting rates vary, criminologists say. Also, personal safety varies tremendously depending on lifestyle, income and neighborhood.

"Knowing the city someone lives in tells you next to nothing about their risk for crime," says Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a longtime critic of the rankings...."

"The CQ Press ranking takes into account a city's per-capita incidence of six serious crimes: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor-vehicle theft. For each crime, the editors calculate how each city's rate differs from the national average. These six percentage differences are averaged to produce an overall score, and then cities are ranked by that score, which, roughly speaking, represents the difference between a city's rate of serious crime and the national rate.

This method produces some quirks. A city with below-average levels in five of the categories but a very high level of, say, car theft could score poorly. Also, if crime is down nationally, a city whose crime rate falls more slowly could see its crime ranking rise. And there is very little difference near the middle of the rankings, meaning differences of 20 or 30 ranking positions might not be statistically significant..."

The author wrote an additional blog post on this subject. A group of criminologists formed one group, Improving Crime Data that claims it uses a more statistically accurate approach. Its rankings "The rankings reflect (1) the raw rates per 100,000 population and (2) the rates adjusted for differences across the cities in socio-economic factors. The adjusted rates result in important changes in the ranking for several cities".

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad you have this. The adjustments can make for some wildly different rankings if one looks at the Improving Crime Data report.
But, the bottom line is as I've blogged many times objecting to your weekly crime stats, you can't compare data that isn't gathered/reported in the same way and that doesn't account for key variables.

Kingfish said...

So I'm not supposed to publish the crime stats put out by our local governments? Sorry, I'm not buying that argument.

Anonymous said...

I think most people in the metro area don't need crime rankings to confirm that Jackson isn't safe. Jackson crime is a given, a known, a matter of settled understanding. Crime rankings aren't needed to substantiate the obvious. The dysfunction and leniency of the Hinds County judicial system is also well understood in the metro and state. Jackson and Hinds aren't emptying out because of a lack of watering holes downtown.

Anonymous said...

Publish them please. We who are holding on by our fingernails in Jackson need every scrap of information possible.

Kingfish said...

When I included news feeds on DJP's website/blog, a person emailed Ben raising cane about including feeds, saying there didn't need to be any negative information about Jackson on the site and then blamed me, you got it, blamed me, for putting crime stats on my site and said I was doing alot of harm by doing so. I kid you not. Needless to say, her suggestion was not followed.

Anonymous said...

Though you also tend a small herd of sacred cows KF you deliver more transparency than all the other media outlets combined.

All of the others COMBINED!

And once Thigpen gets the county level spend data up on SeeTheSpending.org the shit is going to hit the fan.

The internet is the great equalizer for John Q. Public and politicos in Mississippi should be very, very scared.

Anonymous said...

Sacred cows make tasty cheeseburgers.

Anonymous said...

There is no good way to measure crime. No good comes from measuring crime. Look at the UCR. It is very flawed and misleading. Police departments can manipulate these numbers easily, intentionally and unintentionally.

This stuff does perform a very important function for government, like Homeland Security. It increases fear and justifies spending millions on "criminal justice" and "law enforcement".

Anonymous said...

Anybody for the Chargers in the Super Bowl Poll?

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Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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