In editions prior to the 2009 to 2010 edition, the terms safest and dangerous were used to describe the cities and metropolitan areas with the lowest and highest rankings in the comparative analysis, respectively. Even though the rankings are still provided, these terms are no longer used because perceptions of safety and danger are just that—perceptions. The data analyzed here are reported crime and population, which together constitute only two factors considered when determining safety or risk of crime victimization. Thus, the analyses in this
book are purely descriptive. At no time do we attempt to explain why reported crime rates are higher or lower from one community to the next. These explanations—currently sought by criminologists and other social science researchers—are beyond the scope of this book.
As a social science publisher, SAGE is well aware that all data come with limitations. Aggregating crime data across a city—when we all know that the likelihood of crime varies neighborhood to neighborhood—can only tell one so much. The most accurate statement would be that El Paso had the lowest overall reported crime rate within city boundaries of cities its population (or larger) in the United States in a particular year. We would add, as we do in our methodology section, that we mean by “lowest composite reported crime rate” the largest deviation below the national median in six main crime categories, which are counted equally.
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