A New Jersey city holds the title of second most dangerous city in the nation, according to a new report, but that's an improvement from last year.
We're not talking about the state's largest city of Newark, which came in 23rd on the annual list published by CQPress, but the most southern city of Camden, which was usurped by St. Louis as the nation's most dangerous in 2009.
The annual rankings are based on population figures and crime data compiled by the FBI. Some criminologists question the findings, saying the methodology is unfair.
Nonetheless, the study found St. Louis had 2,070.1 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, compared with a national average of 429.4. That lifted St. Louis over Camden, which topped last year's list and was the most dangerous city for 2003 and 2004. Buffalo, N.Y., and New Haven, Conn., came in 17th and 18th, respectively.
But residents in an Albany town can sleep well at night. For the second straight year, the safest city with more than 75,000 residents was Colonie, N.Y. Ramapo, N.J., came in third-safest. New York City was number 132 out of 400 on the safest list.
However, given the limited data used to compile the rankings, the FBI urges caution against reading too much into the findings.
Greg Scarbro, unit chief of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, said the FBI also discourages using the data for these types of rankings.
Kara Bowlin, spokeswoman for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, said the city actually has been getting safer over the last few years. She said crime in St. Louis has gone down each year since 2007, and so far in 2010, St. Louis crime is down 7 percent.
Erica Van Ross, spokeswoman for the St. Louis Police Department, called the rankings irresponsible.
"Crime is based on a variety of factors. It's based on geography, it's based on poverty, it's based on the economy,'' Van Ross said.
"That is not to say that urban cities don't have challenges, because we do,'' Van Ross said. "But it's that it's irresponsible to use the data in this way.''