Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.

Study of metro areas repudiates report

'Where We Stand' says St. Louis is safer than many other regions


The numbers just don't back up the claim.

In a repudiation of a recent report putting St. Louis at the top of the list of the nation's most dangerous cities, a detailed study of nearly three dozen metro areas shows quite a different picture.

In the forthcoming release Friday of a new "Where We Stand" report, the East-West Gateway Council of Governments will show Metro St. Louis to have a below-average crime rate. That's contrary to the claim made in recent weeks by Morgan Quitno Press of Lawrence, Kan., which cited a set of crime statistics that it said showed St. Louis to be the most unsafe city in the U.S.

The East-West Gateway report - which will be released as part of the council's annual membership meeting Friday - shows the crime rate for the region has dropped to 4,129 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2004 compared with 6,305 incidents in 1991.

Metro St. Louis is compared with 35 similar metro areas across the U.S. in the "Where We Stand" report. It will examine several categories regarding the quality of life for residents of the bistate region.

The agency's annual meeting will be at the Millennium Hotel, 200 S. 4th St. The program will include the presentation of the Outstanding Local Government Achievement awards to individuals and organizations that deserve recognition for their involvement in public service.

University of Missouri-St. Louis criminal justice professor Richard Rosenfeld said there are several factors within a metropolitan area that should be considered when measuring how safe a community is, rather than comparing numbers of individual metro regions.

"The risk of criminal victimization differs sharply by age, sex, family status and neighborhood," Rosenfeld said. "These demographic and lifestyle factors not only matter, they matter much more than the metropolitan area in which a person happens to live in determining whether they will become a victim of a crime."

According to council administrators, Metro St. Louis is compared to 35 other "peer regions." Each region has a population of at least 950,000 and either within 500 miles of St. Louis or has an economic function similar that of the bistate area.

For example, Boston, Miami and San Francisco are included in the group because they have similar economic functions as St. Louis, but metro areas such as Las Vegas, Orlando or Sacramento are not included because they are too far away and don't share similar functions with St. Louis.

It has been four years since the last "Where We Stand" was issued. Previous editions were published in 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2002.

East-West Gateway Executive Director Les Sterman calls "Where We Stand" a useful tool for self-assessment by local leaders in seeing how Metro St. Louis stands up against other regions.

"Certainly, the latest edition shows that while our region has made some marginal improvements in population and job growth, as we continue to be a very affordable place to live, our standing among our competitors is still not very good," Sterman said. "If we were a major league baseball team, we seem to perennially finish the season in the second division. On the other hand, we have most of the ingredients to do a lot better - location, low taxes, affordability, transportation.

Each edition of the report ranks St. Louis in more than 80 social, economic, fiscal and physical categories.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News


National News