A controversial study was recently published by CQ Press which purports to rank American cities by crime rates. Apparently, the study has been attacked as "an irresponsible misuse of crime data," a criticism upon which I am entirely unprepared to comment. All I can say is that, according to this study, my current hometown of Oakland, California is the fourth most dangerous city in America, and Richmond, California (the much smaller city where I work) is the ninth most dangerous.
Needless to say, my mother is very proud.
I'm not even a little bit surprised by either of these rankings. Oakland, like any city, has its sketchy parts, and they are truly quite sketchy. I, however, live in one of the safest and most gentrified parts of Oakland, and not a second should be wasted worrying about my safety in good ol' Rockridge. As for Richmond: yep, there's quite a bit of violence (hence the need to help the kids avoid all the violence and go to college instead). Most of the shootings are north of the BART station, while I work just south of the BART station, and I never walk by myself after dark. Also, there's been a very admirable community effort to stymie the violence through grassroots organization (there's this thing called "Tent City" which is sort of an intense version of a neighborhood watch, and which is apparently working pretty well).
I know it's kind of silly, but I'm almost a little proud that I live and work in the only two Californian cities to make the top ten on the dangerousness list. It isn't that I want to be in danger; it's more that I recognize that danger is out there, and I'm glad to be aware of it and acting in some very minor way to combat it (I figure that any time I spend in Oakland or Richmond during which I don't commit a crime is decent progress).