ST. LOUIS — "St. Louis is the most dangerous city in the U.S."
It's the headline you couldn't miss today if you have a phone, listen to the radio, or get a newspaper. But is it true?
That's what we set out to verify this morning.
The headline is based on the F.B.I.'s "Crime in the United States" report. It comes out every year, along with a note that basically says "this isn't the gospel." It specifically cautions against using the data to create rankings (bolding used in FBI summary):
Caution against Ranking—Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, tribal area, or region.
Yet, people talk about the report like it's the gospel, news outlets report it like it's the gospel and you can bet the folks who are trying to wrestle away some of the convention business we get here are selling it like it's the gospel.
After some digging, we have news for you, it isn't.
When you dig into the numbers, you'll find the number of murders per 100,000 people in St. Louis is 12.6. That's high, too high, but it's not the highest.
It's not the second highest, the tenth or even the 20th highest.
It's the 23rd highest behind all sorts of places you're probably less likely to go walking around alone at night than you are here.
Here's the list of places ahead of St. Louis.
So we can verify reports that St. Louis is the most dangerous city in the U.S. are false.
Now, we've got a problem here in St. Louis. There is too much violence. Too many murders. Too many shootings. Too many armed robberies.
But it's simply NOT the most dangerous city in the U.S., and some of the suburbs around here are some of the safest.
*Note: This story was updated to reflect 12.6 is a reference to the number of murders per 100,000 people in St. Louis, not violent crimes.