Every year, a publisher releases a ranking of American cities correlated somehow to their reported crime rates. The publisher uses questionable methodology in their rankings, but always manages to catch the media’s attention and requires Convention & Visitors Commissions across the country to answer questions for 364 days. The FBI, the US Conference of Mayors, and the American Society of Criminology disagree with the whole idea of the list.
But, there is a list and St. Louis is on it (again) this year.
St. Louis is not a dangerous city. In fact, reported crime in the City has been down by double digit percentages over the past three years.
So, how does St. Louis end up the list year after year?
One reason is that Police Chief Dan Isom is committed to report each and every crime that occurs. Some cities do not do that either as accurately or as widely. Chief Isom and I would rather count crimes accurately and work toward a safer City than try to avoid a place on this list.
The bigger reason, though,is geography. The City of St. Louis is a relatively small municipality wrapped around the region’s center. If they ranked our City’s metropolitan area including places like Clayton, University City, Shrewsbury, and Maplewood which are feet from the City limits St. Louis would not be anywhere near the top of the list. In fact, we’d be closer to being on the “safest city” list. But, because our actual City is only 62 square miles in a metropolitan area of 3,322 square miles, many of neighborhoods are excluded from the list.
You could draw map 62-mile circles around areas of Kansas City, Los Angeles, and New York and those cities would be on the list, too.
Bottom line, St. Louis is not a dangerous place to be. Ours, like many cities, has parts of some neighborhoods that are dangerous — and we have many more neighborhoods that are very safe.
As you read the list, remember this: safety is not determined by your zip code. Instead, it depends on how much time you spend away from the home at night, how aware you are of your surroundings, and how often you use good common sense.