CQ, Fleishman and Crime Stats

Not everyone is in love with CQ Press’ City Crime Statistics Book. NPR’s “On the Media” interviewed a criminologist over the weekend who is speaking out against the rankings (Detroit ranks #1, St. Louis #2…).

Of course, the criminologist, Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, is part of a coalition organized by international public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard on behalf of the St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (the Association is paying Fleishman-Hillard $500,000 to rebuild St. Louis’ image). See more about Fleishman’s effort by downloading a .pdf here.

The City Crime Statistics book
is based on official FBI statistics. Executives of CQ Press participated in a 60-minute conference call with members of the Fleishman-Hillard coalition last month. The coalition members, including a professor of criminology, a journalist, and an FBI statistician, objected as general proposition to crime-statistic comparisons. They cited as justification the FBI’s own cautionary disclaimer about using the data to make comparisons between cities or regions. The CQ Press executives, including Publisher John A. Jenkins, told the Fleishman-Hillard coalition that CQ Press intended to move forward with publishing the book.

Jenkins told the producer of “On the Media”:

    Our book relies on official FBI data. We are aware, of course, of the comments of criminologists and sociologists who collect and analyze these statistics, including those at the FBI. There is a very clear difference of opinion between us, as journalists who report and interpret the data, and those on the other side. As a journalist, I feel quite strongly that our comparative analysis of the official FBI data provides valuable information to readers. As the head of CQ Press, I stand by the book 100%.

John also pointed out this comment from the book itself:

    Our publications help concerned Americans learn how their communities fare in the fight against crime. The first step in making our cities and states safer is to understand the true magnitude of their crime problems. This will only be achieved through straightforward data that all of us can use and understand.

Read CQ’s press release and methodology.