St. Louis Named No. 5 Most Dangerous City Because No One Knows How Statistics Work

Categories: Crime, Lists

stlskyline.jpeg
David Herholz on flickr
Welcome to America's fifth most dangerous city...sort of.
St. Louis is the fifth most dangerous city in America, CNN Money announced Tuesday.

The report, based on the annual release of FBI violent crime statistics, is heavily skewed to make St. Louis appear more violent, as Mayor Francis Slay, business leaders and rapping Washington University ballerinas have made abundantly clear for more than eight years.

St. Louis is in a unique situation because the city and county are divided. Unlike any of the other top ten cities, St. Louis is measured only by the crime within the city limits, excluding county crime entirely.

Update, Feb. 2: St. Louis doesn't just have a crime problem; it has a crime statistics problem.

Historically, America's largest cities have grown over time, expanding their boundaries to include suburban or rural land and incorporating it into the city.

But when St. Louis city left St. Louis County in 1876, it was sandwiched between the county line and the Mississippi River, leaving only the urban core, concentrating the metropolitan area's crime into city stats.

"Any urban core is going to have problems," says St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch in Time Magazine. "What we don't have is the suburban and the rural areas that some of those cities have to help offset or balance those crime numbers."

To compare, Oklahoma City's reporting area is nearly ten times the size of St. Louis'. New York City takes up 468 square miles, Memphis is 315 and Kansas City is 319.

Richard Rosenfeld, a UM-St. Louis professor of criminology, wrote in USA Today that the CQ Press statistics inflate crime in communities where the central city's population is dwarfed by that of the suburban areas.

"If crime rates are to be compared at all, the comparisons should be among metropolitan areas, not central cities," says Rosenfeld. "Doing so can change the picture dramatically."
CQ Press releases data based on cities, not metropolitan areas, according to the methodology.

Don't worry, we know understanding statistics is hard. Let these ladies break down the basics for you:

And just to make sure we're perfectly clear, here's one more:

Skewed statistics have put St. Louis in the top ten most dangerous cities for years.

In 2006 a 20 percent crime bump rocketed St. Louis to the No. 1 spot, and by then, this funky math was already getting old. River City dropped to No. 2 in 2007 and No. 4 in 2008.

crimecartoon123.jpeg
Dan Zettwoch
CQ Press ranked St. Louis as the second most dangerous city, behind Camden, New Jersey, in 2009. St. Louis also got a No. 2 ranking in a 2010 Forbes report that didn't include data from Chicago, Las Vegas or East St. Louis.

St. Louis earned the crown again in 2010 when CQ Press named it the most dangerous city in America.

By 2011 St. Louis dropped down to fourth place in the CQ Press rankings but jumped up to No. 1 in U.S. News and World Report, beating out Atlanta, Detroit and Baltimore. In 2012, St. Louis dropped back down to third most dangerous.

In 2013, St. Louis was known not just as the most dangerous city but as the deadliest because of a combination of crime (based on those backward statistics) and natural disasters.

And now we're back, albeit at the lowest rank in years. CNN Money's analysis puts St. Louis as the No. 5 most dangerous city in America behind No. 4 Oakland and before No. 6 Cleveland.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
98 comments
GrinchSTL
GrinchSTL

So many ignorant people in this city.. most of you goons don't even know 1 fraction of St.Louis's history..No matter where you go in any city in this country theres going to be crime. Not one city is safer than the other.Any city that has more than 1 homicide is dangerous enough...

TyroneHJefferson
TyroneHJefferson


Divide the STL City into two new cities .... we all know where that "dividing line" would be ..... wink wink ;) 

Slay could be mayor over the "South of 40" City (pronounced : Sowth a' Farty) ;  and one of the Bosleys, Clays, or Beys could set up a tribal City in the old North. .... maybe call it the City of Sharpton (in honor of Saint Al of Sharpton).


A third city could even be declared in CWE ,or Soulard, and ruled by some hipster Mayor in a fedora (with a scroungy soul patch). That city could be called "The Loo" (in honor of the British slang word for a toilet).


joshuastephens
joshuastephens

This defense is patently untrue.

All of these statistics are based on city limits, not county limits. Cleveland is always in the top 10 most dangerous cities, but I never see people making excuses for that. If you included the whole county, of course it wouldn't be on the list. Oakland doesn't give the statistics for their whole county. And the city of Oakland is only 55 square miles, 8 square miles smaller than the "deceptively small" St. Louis city limits.

Nobody is comparing crime in metro areas to St. Louis city limits. They are comparing crime in other cities limits to St. Louis city limits.

Pat Schoonyoung
Pat Schoonyoung

It was just named the second most Romantic City in USA, I can verify that.Positive news for a change!

egolterman
egolterman topcommenter

St. Louis is among the top five most dangerous cities because it is among the top 5 most dangerous cities. Has nothing to do  with statistics or boundaries.

Keith Giesler
Keith Giesler

Yes, Laura Dee is 100% right. Sure there's plenty of crime, but St Louis is the only city in the country (other than Washingto DC) that isn't part of any county. So the law-abiding citizens that are not shooting each other in Ladue are not counted at all. In 1876 I think it was, the city of StL thought it was all hot-shit, didn't need those farmers in the counties in their tax base, and they separated from the county. Again, really unprecedented. And of course, the city has been regretting that move for the last 75 years or so.

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

East St. Louis isn't St. Louis's problem. They should have to change their name. Sick of being lumped with the East Side.

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

Know what would fix this problem? Combining the county and city like every other city in the country does. But jerks on both sides of the county line will never allow it.

GeerlingsJack
GeerlingsJack

@sarahkendzior I work in Flint (2) and live in Detroit (3) Here "not dangerous" is often a push back against exaggerated media crime stories

Harrison Elfrink
Harrison Elfrink

Why is that though? Maybe we can identify the root causes and counter the? Or we can continue moaning about how our city sucks while businesses leave and we allow media smartasses like Wolf Blitzer, Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough continue turning us people into their ratins-fodder.

elysevesser
elysevesser

@sarahkendzior sad how people worry about outward "image" of stl over looking inward + realizing the experience that many residents face

Ryan_STL1
Ryan_STL1

@sarahkendzior RFT is just trying to justify the statistic. That's sad. Real ? is how do we lower crimes in STL?

Harrison Elfrink
Harrison Elfrink

I agree that the national media makes things out worse than they really are, but we should be realistic at the same time. There is a problem with violent crime in North City and parts of North County, there is a meth epidemic in the outer county and surrounding areas, and there is East St. Louis. But I believe these problems can be fixed and overcome if we're willing to face them head-on and come together as a community.

Wump
Wump

Lindsay Toler, YOU don't know how statictics work.  These are City rankings, none of them take in suburbs, just cities.  In some places citites have combined with some, or many or most of their suburbs to create  one big city.  that is a rarity, most cities are just municipalities in a larger county.  in those cities the crimes counted are those in the city limits, just like in st louis.  the fact that the city of st louis in not part of st louis county  is a total NON FACTOR.  stop spreading this myth.  in fact, st louis county crime stats are artificially low.  in cook county, which contains chicago, the county crime stats must include the city of chicago.  while st louis county does not have that problem, you county fucks should stop looking a gift horse in the mouth.  stop saying "city crime stats don't include the county (AKA suburbs)", no shit they dont, the pope is catholic, one and one is two, and st louis county is not the city of st louis.

Heather Wiltshire
Heather Wiltshire

I love all the idiotic never lived in the city people talking shit. They all talk about abandon buildings and being scared to go to sporting events so your talking about downtown. There is a lot more to the city than just downtown. So don't talk shit when you obviously have no clue what you are talking about

Dave Brown
Dave Brown

#5? We can do better. We used to be #1!

Catherine Kriz Barrom
Catherine Kriz Barrom

All you St. Louis haters...check out Memphis, TN if you think St. Louis sux!

Jesse Swan
Jesse Swan

St. Louis is a disgusting place.

thekip25
thekip25

Ummmm NO! - they say quite clearly that these are the statistics for St. Louis CITY ONLY .... parts of which are incredibly fucking dangerous to live in. Adding in St. Louis County and the Illinois areas that constitute the Metro East would only serve to add in and then dilute the statistics - If you want real numbers then look at each area individually - The problem seems to be that those of us who live here (and I AM a CITY resident) often tend to think of the bigger area including St Louis City, County and the Metro East as "St. Louis" - In the case of this survey I would have to agree with it for the boundaries of St. Louis CITY - and I do NOT think that it is unfair to the rest of the CITY and the rest of the areas as they have their own statistics for crime - I mean should we count East St. Louis, Brooklyn, Sauget and Venice Illinois as part of the St. Louis region ? - I'm betting that the Mayor and Civic progress would say NO ! - but, they ARE part of the Metro East and very high crime areas. The CITY DOES have crime problems and most are centered on the low income areas ..imagine that - The Mayor and City Council and Civic Progress and the CVB and all the other groups that want to promote St. Louis as a great place to move your business (and your employees) to have a vested interest in denying the truth of these statistics - PERIOD - and they want business to move into the CITY of St. Louis NOT the County or East side ... So just think about that

Evan Kuhn
Evan Kuhn

Holy moly!!! Have you folk read any of these actual comments? These are all insane opinions to keep. St. Louis is a gorgeous city. Amazing. I just got back from house-gazing with my girlfriend through the snowy streets, and I'll tell you, architecturally this is one of the finest cities there is. This city has all the trappings of a prosperous place past its prime. My goodness: imagine the wealth here during the 19th century! The commodity flow of goods rushing eastward from the fertile and still-very-much-frontier western lands; the lynchpin of the spirit of American Expansionism, that expression of boundless energy, unwavering zeal, a desire for and a belief in More, harvesting or extracting resources from the west for buyers out east hungry for a piece of that dream. St. Louis brought the two together as a trading post, a literal and symbolic halfway point between worlds, a confluence and marriage of cooperative desires manifesting a paragon of American style in municipal construction, planning, design, a true frontier spirit of success that became the envy of the entire world, attracting in 1904 both the Olympics and the goddang World's Fair -- which itself inspired the construction of many extant Forest Park landmarks, the eldest of Washington University's cloistered halls. All I'm sayin: look around you. Have some historical sense. Believe in greatness; take the heart necessary to achieve it.

Rob Tonn
Rob Tonn

True of most statistics; people just don't understand.

Greg Kiger
Greg Kiger

Crappy reality tv shows shot here do not help either, ugh.

Joseph Khur
Joseph Khur

All cities are festering shitholes of scum and villainy. Best we burn them all down now and save humanity the future humiliation of having to explain to our descendants how we let so many people get so close to each other that they literally turned into vermin.

Shannon Lee Leitner
Shannon Lee Leitner

I disagree. St. Louis is disgusting! Worn down buildings, homeless people everywhere, shootings every night. It is not pretty to look at....even driving through it and not stoping. it's disgusting and dirty. This city does nothing to clean it up. Nobody should be scared to go to a baseball game, hockey or any game at that matter. I live 15 min away and don't even want to go anywhere near there.

Jeff Vines
Jeff Vines

Glenn Kammerer Agreed, although cities such as Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Boston all have smaller land areas than St. Louis yet their crime rates are much lower.

Brandon Minster
Brandon Minster

BS. City data, not "most dangerous counties." And Baltimore is also an independent city. And St. Louis beat it. Baltimore, the home of "The Wire."

Glenn Kammerer
Glenn Kammerer

I think the overriding factor here is that the "City of St. Louis" is a postage stamp sized area when compared to most cities considered "large". I would also guess that the actual geographical area of the city limits is comparatively small in relation to the total area of the metropolitan area. The per capita numbers are high because the statistics are derived from a population of about 300,000, when the total population of what locals consider "St. Louis" is close to 3 million. It's really a matter ofd a skewed peopgraphical sample.

Michael P Goggins
Michael P Goggins

Like I said no amount of whining and stomping you feet will make you right. Not asingle fact proves anything yohave speed. The voices inside your head are winning. Stay in dream land where delusion equals facts and leave reality to us grownups. Miles over your head!!

Harrison Elfrink
Harrison Elfrink

When they talk about St. Louis being "the most dangerous" place in the country/world or whatever headline will scare people, they forget to separate the city itself (which has a very small population of a three hundred thousand people) from the entire metro (a million). The city's population is a fraction of the metro population, so that will make St. Louis statistics appear more severe than they actually are. Also all this exaggerated media tale-bearing of our city has done us some severe harm and has gotten foreign governments (such as France) to warn their citizens from visiting St. Louis. Now we have black mark and we're harder pressed in attracting tourists, international students and business and commerce to our city.

Randy Vines
Randy Vines

^That's all true, however that would require the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County to officially merge into a single government entity, like Nashville and Indianapolis. That's why those cities get to report countywide stats-- because their municipal boundaries are the same as their county boundaries. Reporting crime stats for STL City and STL County as if they are one governmental body when in fact they are not is disingenuous for purposes of these rankings and would give St. Louis an unfair advantage over other cities that would also like to look better by fudging their numbers thanks to the help of adjacent suburbs. We all agree that these lists are misleading and do not consider a host of variables that prove to be a disadvantage for cities like St. Louis. A fair list would measure crimes that occur within the same radius for every city, not just municipal boundaries. But alas, that's not how it works. You are arguing with yourself, Michael.

Michael P Goggins
Michael P Goggins

The FBI has allowed combined statistics only where city and county departments have actually merged, such as in Marion County, Ind., Jefferson County, Ky., Jacksonville, Fla., and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Fitch said. As a compromise, Dotson and Fitch said they would seek permission from their bosses to cross-deputize, giving city officers authority to enforce county ordinances and vice versa. Right now, only officers in specialized units that often cross boundaries, such as Metrolink patrols, are cross-deputized. “We haven’t said the FBI should make an exception for St. Louis and St. Louis alone, but maybe it’s time to look at other areas that are similarly situated to more accurately describe crime as a region,” Fitch said. He noted that Baltimore has a similar perception problem.

Jeff Vines
Jeff Vines

Michael P Goggins Look at the population figures for Detroit in the CNN article. It says it has a population of 701,475. Wayne County has a total population of 1,792,000. These figures DO NOT include the entire county. Of course you can find county-wide crime stats, but that's not what these rankings are measuring.

GrinchSTL
GrinchSTL

You do know ESTL is across the river right?Till then you're going to be lumped with them.The City wants to merge but its the county thats reluctant.Let me guess baby boomers who have already destroyed not only Detroit but are dismantling this country.They almost destroyed STL.. 

sarahkendzior
sarahkendzior

@GeerlingsJack That's understandable. "Danger" stories often dehumanize. But "it's not dangerous" avoids issues. The truth is in between.

erich25
erich25

You're from Imperial!  Talk about a white trash playground.....

japarker
japarker

your face is a disgusting place.

Wump
Wump

@thekip25 it doesnt matter what you think of as st louis.  st louis is a city, it has city limits, if you dont live in them, you don't live in the city of st louis.  get it?

rupert05xlh
rupert05xlh

You're a pussy,  I've been a STH for the Blues for 15 years and have never had a problem parking on the street, walking to the arena, going to a bar before or after, or walking back to my truck to go home. Old buildings and bums asking for change does not equal danger.

japarker
japarker

spoken like a true county-dweller.  sheesh.

Now Trending

St. Louis Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...