HARTFORD — - The city has cracked the top 25 in a listing of cities with the worst crime rates in the country.
"City Crime Rates 2009-2010: Crime in Metropolitan America," ranked Hartford 24th, three spots behind Philadelphia and six places ahead of Newark, N.J., in a listing of 393 cities with populations of 75,000 and above.
Pictures: Most Dangerous Cities In America
The publication, which used 2008 FBI crime statistics for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft to compile its current rankings, listed Camden, N.J.; St. Louis, Mo.; Oakland, Calif.; Detroit; and Flint, Mich. as the top five most dangerous cities. Bridgeport ranked 44th and Springfield ranked 51st.
The publication ranked Colonie, N.Y.; Amherst, N.Y.; Mission Viejo, Calif.; Irvine, Calif.; and Ramapo, N.Y., as the top five safest cities. Danbury was the highest-ranking Connecticut city for safety at 29.
Hartford ranked 27th on the list last year.
Statistics for New Haven were not reported to the FBI, according to Ben Krasney, a spokesman for CQ Press, the publisher of the list.
Law enforcement officials have been critical of the listing, calling it an irresponsible use of crime statistics that provides no insight into contributing factors such as population density, economic conditions and local police strength or crime-reporting practices by citizens. But Krasney said the listing, now in its 16th year, provides a public service and is taken seriously by local police chiefs and elected officials.
"It's one way to look at data, Krasney said. "It provides a quick snapshot of how you compare to other cities."
Nancy Mulroy, spokeswoman for the Hartford Police Department, disagreed, saying the department is familiar with the listing but does not use it for crime analysis.
"In the last five years we've had consistent declines in part one crime and 2008 was the lowest reported crime in the city's recorded history," Mulroy said. Part one crimes include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.
Mulroy also questioned how cities with many different contributing factors can be lumped together in one report.
"I don't know how Hartford at 18.5 miles can be compared with Little Rock or Philadelphia," she said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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