Everett ranked high on crime

EVERETT — For the second consecutive year, Everett ranked in the top 20 percent of the nation’s most crime-plagued cities, according to a controversial report that applies FBI crime statistics in a way the government maintains is inaccurate.

Everett placed 66th out of 378 cities nationwide, third-worst in the state. Seattle came in at 113th on the list created by CQ Press based in Washington, D.C.

Critics said the list is deeply flawed.

The FBI numbers are not meant to be ranked, said Rob Casey, who runs the FBI unit that collects crime statistics nationwide. CQ Press gives the same emphasis to violent crime as it does to property crimes.

“I disagree completely with their method,” Casey said.

In the CQ report, “the impact of a bicycle of being stolen of your front porch is the same as your husband being murdered in your back yard. All the crimes are weighted equally and that’s just ludicrous,” Casey said.

Each year, cities, states and local law enforcement voluntarily submit data to the FBI, which publishes annual reports.

Different jurisdictions consider different crimes when reporting their data and some don’t even bother, Everett Police Chief Jim Scharf said.

“Not all police agencies send in this information and not all cities send in the same information,” Scharf said. “The numbers are not accurate.”

Compared to other similarly sized cities, Everett ranks low in violent crimes, Scharf said.

“I’d like to challenge anybody who says that Everett is truly a dangerous city,” he said.

When violence does occur, Everett police have a strong record of investigating, following up and helping prosecutors to get convictions, he said.

“Why don’t they put out information in regards to conviction rates?” Scharf asked.

The study’s authors attempt to create one scale that summarizes the FBI statistics, CQ Press spokesman Ben Krasney said.

They use six of eight data points gathered by the FBI — the total number of reported murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and motor-vehicle thefts — to come up with a community’s ranking.

“The score doesn’t mean anything except to compare one city to the next,” Krasney said.

Detroit, St. Louis and Flint, Mich. ranked the three most-dangerous cities, according to the report. Mission Viejo, Calif.; Clarkstown, N.Y.; and Brick Township, N.J., were considered safest.

Everett’s score slipped slightly from last year when the city placed 88th out of 371, the study shows. The change likely is attributable to an increase in car and property thefts from 2005 to 2006, Scharf said.

Compared with Seattle, Everett showed a decrease in murders during the same period and a relatively small increase in property crimes.

City officials take fighting crime seriously. They’ve added $2 million in this year’s budget, which will pay for 17 additional police officers, Mayor Ray Stephenson said.

Police this year are seeing the trend turn around, Scharf said. There’s been about a 25 percent decrease in property crimes in 2007.

He said he still recommends people use common sense when walking around the city.

Scharf said Everett is a safe place and people here don’t need to worry about going outside.

“They should not be concerned for their safety,” he said.

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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