St. Louis: Fighting the "dangerous" image - KMOV.com

St. Louis: Fighting the "dangerous" image

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By Afton Spriggs By Afton Spriggs

The headline that has the entire country talking today: St. Louis is the most dangerous city in the United States.

That's according to an annual report released by the Congressional Quarterly Press.

St. Louis is followed on the list by Camden, New Jersey, Detroit and Flint, Michigan, and Oakland, California.

But is it all just hype?

Even I got a call from my future mother-in-law in Indiana today asking when we're going to move out of the big, bad city.  But don't ditch your house keys just yet.  A leading criminologist says the report is unfair and unfounded.

It's what you might call a PR nightmare.

"People think twice about moving to the city, bringing business to the city, about holding meetings and conventions in the city," Criminologist Dr. Rick Rosenfeld says.

Dr. Rosenfeld says the city's "most dangerous" ranking is bogus.  He says crime is concentrated, just like in any other city.

"If you're out searching for drugs or selling illegal drugs, your risk for crime is considerably high," Dr. Rosenfeld says.  "You learn next to nothing about somebody's risk for crime simply by knowing what city they reside in."

"The group in the population with by far the highest risk of crime victimization are criminals," Dr. Rosenfeld says.  "People who engage in crime run a very high risk in becoming a victim of crime."

The stats are pulled from the FBI.  But even the feds warn of creating "misleading perceptions" based on the numbers.

"It's a totally artificial number," Jeff Rainford, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay's Chief of Staff, says.

Rainford says St. Louis is unique -- a densly populated area, compared to a sprawling city.

"In most places in america, we'd be the equivalent of places like Webster, Kirkwood, Clayton, University City, North County and South County -- that would all be one city, so if that were the case, we'd be one of the safer cities in America," Rainford says.

In fact, just 32 miles away, O'Fallon, Missouri ranks the second safest city.

"This is a marketing scam," Dick Fleming, President of the Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA), says.

As head of the RCGA, it's Fleming's job to help sell the city.

"What does St. Louis do to change the image that's now portrayed?" Crane asks.

"I think the thing's that's on our side is facts," Fleming says.

Like the city's crime rate actually decreasing by 33% over the past four years.

And luckily, Fleming says, business and convention leaders aren't balking over the new book.

"People who are going to make these kinds of decisions don't make decisions based on some yahoo who 's trying to sell his book," Fleming says.

CQ Press is selling its report in a book that costs $70, but you can get the same information for free at the FBI and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department websites.

CQ Press also told News 4 that there are "flaws in its reporting" and "room for error" in its data.

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