ST. LOUIS — Once again St. Louis is at the top of an unfortunate list as the country's most dangerous city.
A recent study by WalletHub says St. Louis is the least safe community in America, and according to their report, it’s not particularly close.
“We know the region as a whole is very safe,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.
Jones may have a point about the greater St. Louis region, but according to WalletHub, her city is the least safe city in the country.
“I don’t get my news from a place that does credit bureau reporting,” said Jones.
“It’s certainly distressing that moniker is put on the city of St. Louis,” said Director of Public Safety Dan Isom.
“Obviously there’s a disconnect,” said Jones. “WalletHub doesn’t live here, and isn’t here, but if they take random statistics from random newspapers then of course. You’re only looking at a population of 300,000 people, so those rates are going to seem like it’s violent.”
However, WalletHub’s data isn’t from random newspaper articles as Mayor Jones suggests.
WalletHub pulled information from the FBI, Bureau of Labor, and US Census. They had 42 metrics to create rankings in three categories, in addition to an aggregate score.
The study looked at more than just crime, considering things like unemployment and natural disaster risk.
“Those studies are a little inaccurate in the sense that they’re often comparing apples to orange,” said Isom. “That’s not to dismiss the fact that we do have crime problems in the city of St. Louis.”
Since Mayor Jones took office in 2020 she has championed a holistic approach to fighting crime.
“We have officers working in areas where crime is occurring,” said Isom. “We do intelligence where we’re tracking individuals involved in crime, and really specifically trying to address those issues.”
Though the study gives the city high marks for police officers per capita, Dr. Isom says he believes WalletHub is using old data for a department that has lost 819 officers in the last 5 years.
“The city as a whole can’t get employees,” said Ward 27 Alderwoman Pam Boyd. “We know pay is a big issue with it.”
Despite these struggles Mayor Jones says new initiatives such as the Behavioral Health Bureau will help curb crime in the city.
“Having a Behavioral Health Bureau stood up by the Dept. of Health is a key step forward towards addressing crime in our city,” said Boyd.
“We don’t always want to get wrapped up in numbers because there are lives at stake, but we’re making progress,” said Isom. “Hopefully over time we’ll make enough progress where people will actually feel it.”
In addition to the newly announced initiatives, the City of St. Louis is spending $40 million to try and improve safety on the roads.
St. Louis' aggregate score for "Home & Community Safety," natural disaster risk and financial safety put it at the bottom of the list of 182 cities in the United States.
"Home & Community Safety"
St. Louis ranked 179 on the "Home & Community Safety" measurement, ahead of San Bernardino, Calif.; Detroit; and Baton Rouge, La.
This ranking was most heavily weighted, accounting for 50% of the overall ranking.
Metrics considered included mass shootings, murders per capita, the rate of other violent offenses and first responders per capita. It also too into account other forms of physical safety, like vaccination against COVID-19, traffic and pedestrian fatalities and the quality of roads.
Natural disaster risk
St. Louis had a "N/A" ranking on this list, along with nine other cities on the list. WalletHub did not indicate why this information was unavailable or how it affected the rating.
Metrics for natural disasters included the risk for earthquakes, floods, hail, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires.
Dover, Del., ranked as the safest city for natural disaster risk, and Oklahoma City ranked least safe.
This measurement accounted for 20% of the overall ranking. It considered metrics like unemployment, insurance rates, poverty, fraud and identity theft.
St. Louis ranked 156 for financial safety.