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American Cities: Safe or Unsafe, and Are We More Than a List?

By Phil Butler | February 26, 2013

The Congressional Quarterly (CQ) has announced the safest and most dangerous cities in America in which to live. According to the latest FBI figures from their Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) 2011 data, released Fall 2012. According to the data (PDF) El Paso, Texas is the safest big town, and Detroit tops the list of "least" safe places to live. But there's more to this story than a simple list of good and bad cities. These are, after all, American cities. Please read until the end.

El Paso skyline

El Paso via the city's Facebook

Safe Cities

The Texas Tribune highlights El Paso's third straight win atop the list of safest cities. Surprising, or not, the border town has the best numbers across many categories. While suggestions that the illegal immigration role of the government there have put a damper on overall crime, the number still bear scrutiny. U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, offered this comment via the Tribune:

“The fact is, the border has never been more secure — whether measured in the $18 billion spent annually on border security, the 22,000 boots on the ground, the record number of criminal deportations in the past four years, or the record-low immigrant apprehensions this past year. I agree with the Secretary and President Obama that we cannot allow comprehensive immigration reform to be derailed by those that refuse to see the reality of the border.”

Coming in just behind El Paso in the "safest category" are; San Diego, CA; New York, NY; Austin, TX; and  San Jose, CA.

Detroit is trying very hard - Angels Night courtesy Mayor Bing Facebook

Detroit is trying very hard - Angels Night courtesy Mayor Bing Facebook

Not So Safe Cities

At times like these there's no room for diplomacy. Detroit, in many ways, lives up to Forbes' title of 2013's Most Miserable American Cities. Topping the FBI's list of least peaceful places is one thing, but the median home price tanking to below $40,000 pretty much labels the Motor City a soon to be ghost town. Mass migrations away from Detroit amplify Mayor Dave Bing's outcry with regard to his town's going absolutely bankrupt and being taken over by Michigan altogether:

“We are hindered by several factors, including the City Charter, labor agreements, litigation, governmental structure, and a scarcity of financial and human resources. Further exploration of ways to mitigate these barriers for more timely implementation of my initiatives should be examined."

Bing, an NBA legend and perennial Detroit Pistons winner, told the Detroit Free Press like it is there in Motown. However honest Bing is, and regardless of the Michigan State House's view, one of America's greatest towns is a living horror. Violent crime there is perpetrated on one in every 100 people basically. What's happening to Detroit is horrendous, and so many there are trying so hard to avoid what looks like the inevitable. On a personal level, watching the video reports about Detroit are reminiscent of the Fall of the Roman Empire. Astonishing how American industry has sunken.

What makes you a Detroiter? - Courtesy Mayor Bing's Facebook

What makes you a Detroiter? - Courtesy Mayor Bing's Facebook

Listed right behind Detroit in terms of danger to citizens were; Baltimore, MD ; Memphis, TN; Philadelphia, PA; and the capital in Washington, DC.

Wait A Minute! This is America!

Of course the CQ and FBI websites and documents caution against making broad sweeping assertions over these figures. And there is some controversy going on in the bi-partisan halls of power where evaluating the metrics are concerned, but ending up on either list certainly has advantages and disadvantages. For one, being mentioned in the positive is simply a good thing, while being named as any sort of "miserable place" cannot be viewed as good. Just how real is the reality of safe or unsafe cities? Like any other news we are dependent on official reports too. Given the number of so called "boots on the ground" in El Paso and other border cities, there's room for question.


This image actually took some "Googling" to get. For "American" searches lead to American Airlines interestingly. How sad, we cannot even be indexed as a people. Courtesy - The Inspiration Room

Finally, as a reporter of news finding still more evidence of a shattered American industrial age, it behooves anyone reading this to study Detroit in particular. Mayor Dave Bing has essentially taken on the impossible there. Without massive help on the national and local levels, an era in American history is not the only thing passing before our eyes. Competition from overseas, an abandonment of national goals, many political and philosophical issues have sent America down a path that is unparalleled in human history actually. Detroit is, in a nutshell, symbolic of America's greater decline. Let us know your thoughts.

Phil Butler is a former engineer, contractor, and telecommunications professional who is editor of several influential online media outlets including part owner of Pamil Visions with wife Mihaela. Phil began his digital ramblings via several of the world’s most noted tech blogs, at the advent of blogging as a form of journalistic license. Phil is currently top interviewer, and journalist at Realty Biz News.
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