R. Reese Fuller

Louisiana's the second most dangerous state

by R. Reese Fuller

When it came to crime in 2006, the only state more dangerous than Louisiana was Nevada, according to recently released rankings compiled by CQ Press in Crime State Rankings 2008: Crime Across America. The year before, in 2005 when hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck Louisiana, the state was considered the 10th most dangerous state in the nation.

CQ Press' City Crime Rankings, released in November, ranked 378 U.S. cities, based on information provided to the FBI for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. On the national level, no Louisiana city ranked in the top 25 for either the most dangerous or safest city. But Lafayette's the safest city in Louisiana, ranked nationally as the 90th most dangerous state (or 289th safest). When compared with the previous year's rankings, Lafayette went from being the 129th most dangerous city in the nation in 2005 to the 90th most dangerous in 2006, the first full year after the hurricanes. Here's how the numbers ranked for Louisiana's safest cities when viewed on the national level:

Lafayette - 289
New Orleans - 314
Shreveport - 322
Baton Rouge - 351

When taking into account Louisiana's metro area, Lafayette didn't even show up on the radar, but Shreveport ranked as the 8th most dangerous metro area in the nation and Baton Rouge ranked 19; Lake Charles, which didn't even rank as either a safe or dangerous city out of the national 378, ranked as the 17th most dangerous metro area. Here's how Louisiana's metro areas are ranked nationally as the most dangerous metro areas:

Shreveport - 8
Lake Charles - 17
Baton Rouge - 19
New Orleans - 26
Monroe - 89
Houma - 151

In a press release, CQ Press readily admits that its rankings are controversial: CQ Press’s annual rankings of crime in states, metro areas, and cities are considered by some in the law enforcement community as controversial. The FBI, police and many criminologists caution against rankings according to crime rates. They correctly point out that crime levels are affected by many different factors, such as population density, composition of the population (particularly the concentration of youth), climate, economic conditions, strength of local law enforcement agencies, citizens’ attitudes toward crime, cultural factors, education levels, crime-reporting practices of citizens, and family cohesiveness. However, this criticism is largely based on the fact that there are reasons for the differences in crime rates, not that the rates are incompatible. This would be somewhat akin to deciding not to compare athletes on their speed in the 100-yard dash because of physical or training differences. Such differences help explain the different speeds but do not invalidate the comparisons. To be sure, crime-ranking information must be considered carefully. ...

Read more about Crime State Rankings 2008: Crime Across America.