Local News

Magazine Ranks Cities for Safety

Posted November 26, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— Large police forces don't necessarily make safe cities, Money magazine concluded in its survey that ranked Amherst, N.Y., as the nation's safest city and Newark, N.J., the most dangerous.

Amherst, a Buffalo suburb with 107,000 residents, had the nation's lowest rates for overall violent crime and burglary. Amherst Police Chief John Askey attributed the safety to the city's suburban setting and affluent, well-educated population.

``Most cities with populations of more than 100,000 are urban settings where there is street crime, crowded living conditions and high levels of poverty,'' Askey told the magazine. ``Amherst is more like a big quiet suburb than a city, so we don't have those problems.''

Amherst had 79 violent crimes and 201 burglaries per 100,000 residents, 88 percent and 80 percent below the national average.

Its police strength, 140 officers per 100,000 residents, was less than a third that of Newark, which had 446 officers per 100,000 residents. But Newark, a city of 260,000, had the nation's highest violent-crime rate, with one in 25 residents a victim.

All of the 10 safest cities on the list had police-resident ratios at least 25 percent below the national average.

The magazine asked a statistics firm to rank the cities by adjusting the FBI's 1995 crime statistics to give greater emphasis to crimes that a poll of 501 respondents found most likely to be considered a threat.

Burglary ranked highest in this survey, with 66 percent of respondents saying they considered it a serious or somewhat serious threat to themselves and their families. Other crimes were cited by smaller percentages of respondents. They were not limited to citing one type of crime as a threat.

The survey, appearing in the magazine's Dec. 2 issue, ranked Thousand Oaks, Calif., behind Amherst on the safe cities list, followed by Irvine, Calif.; Simi Valley, Calif.; and Sunnyvale, Calif.

The most dangerous cities were Newark, Atlanta, St. Louis, New Orleans and Detroit.

The magazine said data were not available for Albuquerque, N.M.; Aurora, Ill.; Chicago; Rockford, Ill.; and Springfield, Ill.

Copyright ©1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.