San Jose Worries About Losing “Safest City” Distinction

Source: Crime and Justice News, August 16, 2006.

San Jose may lose its claim to be the “Safest Big City in America,” says the San Jose Mercury News. An analysis of preliminary 2006 FBI crime data – the same data analyzed by the private Morgan Quitno firm – shows San Jose lagging compared with its rankings in previous years in some of the six key crime categories used by some to proclaim the safest and most dangerous cities in the country. San Jose officials are worried about losing a distinction that ends up on brochures touting San Jose as a good place to live and work, and is the subject of bragging at police chiefs’ conferences.

Mayor Chuck Reed called the title “at risk.” Police Chief Rob Davis admitted that his department is “concerned” it might lose the honor it has enjoyed for six years. “Honolulu may edge you out as the least life-threatening city,” said University of California- Berkeley criminologist Frank Zimring. FBI data shows San Jose has the fourth lowest murder rate in the country. The primary reason behind San Jose’s apparent slide is the city’s spike in property crimes, including a 25 percent jump in auto thefts last year. Zimring noted an award from a private company with its own motives could be considered suspect. “It’s a little like the Good Housekeeping Seal of approval that advertisers used to pay for,” he said.

San Jose Mercury News

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