Louisiana's four largest cities, including Lafayette, have been pegged by independent publisher CQ Press as among the most dangerous in the United States. Louisiana's four largest cities, including Lafayette, have been pegged by independent publisher CQ Press as among the most dangerous in the United States. New Orleans (13th) and Baton Rouge (16th) rank in the top 20 while Shreveport (69th) and Lafayette (107th) are farther down the list. CQ's annual report is based on statistics for various crimes including murder, rape, robbery and property crimes culled from 347 metropolitan areas with populations of 75,000 and more using local and federal data.
The top three on the list, in descending order, are St. Louis, Mo., Camden, N.J., and Detroit, Mich.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors lambasts the rankings, which were released in book form ($70) Monday, as "premeditated statistical mugging of America's cities." The FBI, whose data is frequently cited in the ranking, also offers a word of caution, saying it can "create misleading perceptions."
The editors at CQ Press acknowledge those concerns but defend their methodology and product:
CQ Press's annual rankings of crime in cities, states, and metropolitan areas 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, citizen's attitudes toward crime, cultural factors, education levels, and crime reporting practices of citizens and family cohesiveness. Accordingly, crime rankings often are deemed "simplistic" or "incomplete." 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.
The rankings tell an interesting and an important story regarding crime in the United States. Annual rankings not only allow for comparisons among different states and cities, but also enable leaders to track their communities' crime trends from one year to the next. City Crime Rankings helps concerned Americans learn how their communities fare in the fight against crime by providing accessible, straightforward data which citizens can use and understand. See a photo gallery of the top 15 "most dangerous cities" here. A pdf of the complete list is available here.