Monday, November 22, 2010

CQ Press Releases 2010 City Crime Rankings; Anchorage Now The 115th Most Dangerous City In The U.S., Up From 146th Last Year

CQ Press has released their annual list of American cities, metropolitan areas, and their crime rankings for 2010-11, and it shows that statistically, Anchorage, Alaska has become a more dangerous place to live, although not nearly as dangerous as some more prominent cities. Note that the report is based upon 2009 statistical data; there's always a one-year lag time.

-- Read the entire 2010 list of 400 rated cities HERE.
-- For horizontal comparison, read the entire 2009 list of 393 rated cities HERE.
-- For horizontal comparison, read the entire 2008 list of 385 rated cities HERE.

Anchorage was the only Alaskan city on the list; only cities of 75,000 people or more were rated. Out of the 400 cities rated, Anchorage was judged to be the 115th most dangerous city in the United States. This shows a deterioration from 2009, when Anchorage was rated only the 146th most dangerous city out of 393 rated. In 2008, Anchorage was rated 133rd, and in 2007, rated 125th. So some nominal movement up and down the list is expected. But a jump from 146th to 115th in just one year would seem more than nominal.

CQ Press also published a list of most dangerous metropolitan areas, and the Anchorage Metro Area was rated 18th most dangerous of 347 metro areas in the U.S. CQPress defines the Anchorage Metro Area as comprising the Municipality of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, which is one reason why I do not consider the number 18 ranking to be representative. Surely the Mat-Su is not that crime-ridden. Also note that the ratings of other metro areas are actually driven downward and made to look better by their much more crime-free suburbs; for example, Greater Miami is rated only the 48th most dangerous metro area. Does any sane person actually believe that Miami is safer than Anchorage? Of course not; Greater Miami looks better because more crime-free suburbs are incorporated into its overall statistics.

Methodology: According to their press release, the crime rate rankings of the cities and metropolitan areas are calculated using six crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. These categories have been used for determining city crime rate ratings since 1999. The rankings include all cities of at least 75,000 residents that reported crime data to the FBI in the categories noted for calendar year 2009. In the most recent survey, 347 metropolitan areas and 400 cities were considered using statistics released by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the FBI in September, 2010. More detailed information on methodology is available HERE.



Public safety has become somewhat of a political football in Anchorage as the mayor, the assembly, and the Anchorage Police Department Employees Association (APDEA) have been wangling over budget cuts. APD is weighing the possibility of leaving 22 slots unfilled even while Mayor Dan Sullivan wants to give five percent pay raises to 162 city executives. However, some APD officers have been fattening up on the overtime gravy train; 13 APD senior patrol officers make the list of 100 municipal employees who earn more than Mayor Sullivan:

-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $191,954.70; $107,588.47 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $147,768.40; $66,191.98 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $147,439.64, $66,769.25 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $141,249.89; $51,676.30 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $139,620.26; $53,625.69 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $138,730.83; $55,534.81 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $137,869.69; $50,792.28 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $137,804.53; $56,058.55 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $131,851.78; $53,149.86 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $129,905.95; $40,145.97 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $117,673.11; $33,613.11 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $117,252.08; $33,570.14 of it in overtime.
-- Senior Patrol Officer: Total salary $115,242.79; $27,814.05 of it in overtime.

Out of a total salary of $1,794,363,65 for these 13 senior patrol officers, $596,530.46 is in the form of overtime compensation; or 33 percent. Obviously, some overtime is necessary to assure flexible law enforcement. But cutting $400,000 from the overtime bill could fund at least eight additional police officer slots, assuming a salary of $50,000 for each. A greater percentage of compensation would be in the form of straight time rather than more expensive overtime. More bang for the buck.

And Anchorage's rise on the list of most dangerous cities indicates we could benefit from more bang for the buck.

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