Is Columbus really America's most dangerous city?

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comAugust 14, 2013 

If you're a Columbus resident who's on Facebook, you've probably heard you live in America's most dangerous city.

The buzz started earlier this week, when an item called "Five Most Dangerous Cities In America" started circulating on Facebook.

It ranked Columbus No. 1, and lots of people started panicking. So much, in fact, that they overlooked a key fact.

For starters, the article is dated 2012. Also, it's published by SafeMart, a company that sells security systems. The company has sales offices in Milwaukee, Chicago and St. Mary's, Kansas, according to its website.

It's important to mention that SafeMart offers a comparable list that's dated 2013 -- and Columbus dropped from No. 1 to No. 5.

But the list still requires some clarifying. You might associate "most dangerous" with violent crimes, but the list that includes Columbus actually emphasizes property crime rates.

And another interesting thing: Google "SafeMart most dangerous cities" and you'll find a second list from 2013.

This additional list on SafeMart's website is labeled "America’s Most Dangerous Cities, 2013" -- and it includes no mention of Columbus.

Flint, Mich., took the No. 1 spot on the list -- which was apparently based on the FBI’s annual crime report. This list includes violent crimes.

Type "most dangerous cities" into an Internet search engine and you'll learn many "most dangerous" lists consider violent crime per capita and rely on data from the FBI's preliminary 2012 unified crime report. Under that approach, Flint, Mich., is commonly listed as America's most dangerous city.

But we're hardly dealing with absolutes. When comparing national crime rates online, you'll find varying methodologies and reporting periods.

Everyone who's upset about the SafeMart piece should check out NeighborhoodScout’s Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S., which considers violent crimes and includes no references to Columbus.

That list ranks East St. Louis, Ill., No. 1. Good old Flint is also present on the list -- at No. 3, however.

Confused? So are we.

While we continue to examine the numbers, we want to hear from you.

What's your reaction to Columbus' inclusion on the "most dangerous cities" piece that's floating around on Facebook?

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