General News

Posted on: September 12, 2017

City challenges statistics used in negative rankings

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City officials are sharing an accurate look at crime and recreation information, showing that the City of Battle Creek always is improving, and is a good place for families.


The information disputes the claim from 24/7 Wall St. this week that Battle Creek is one of the 25 worst cities in which to raise children. The corporation’s website says it “runs a financial news and opinion company) with content delivered over the Internet.”


City officials analyzed the listing’s methodology and, speaking to those items the city tracks, finds it lacking.


Right on the website of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report is a warning against using crime statistics alone in ranking cities, noting that the FBI has a policy against it.


Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker reiterated that view and policy, which states, in part:


“These incomplete analyses have often created misleading perceptions, which adversely affect geographic entities and their residents.


“Data users should not rank locales because there are many factors that cause the nature and type of crime to vary from place to place. UCR statistics include only jurisdictional population figures, along with reported crime, clearance, or arrest data. Rankings ignore the uniqueness of each locale.”


Using the same, 2015 data, the City of Battle Creek experienced 462 violent crimes in a population of 61,240. The FBI population estimates use U.S. Census data and counts. Violent crime includes murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.


This number is down, looking at historic data:

2014: 61,225 population / 480 violent crimes
2010: 60,386 population / 702 violent crimes
2000: 54,106 population / 853 violent crimes


“Battle Creek is doing well,” Blocker said. “The population is growing, and the violent crime index is lowering. It is frustrating to see a statistic used without context to undermine the improvements we continue to make in our community.”


City officials also called attention to the use of the 2017 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.


As the name indicates, this is a county-wide report, so the statistics are inappropriate to characterize the City of Battle Creek alone.


A city map shows a half-mile circle around all school and park sites in Battle Creek, showing the many recreation opportunities for city neighbors.


“With the exception of the Fort Custer Industrial Park and the very rural southwest portion of the city, where population is sparse, there is considerable overlap between facilities,” said Ted Dearing, the city’s assistant city manager for community and economic development. “I would take real exception to the notion that there is not access to areas of physical activity.”


City officials believe in Battle Creek, and encourage neighbors to seek multiple sources of information related to the way statistics are presented.


“We are going to challenge negativity regarding the city,” said City Manager Rebecca Fleury. “We have challenged our staff, and the entire community, to do so, and to believe in Battle Creek. As a city, we are committed to doing the same.”

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