Oakland has the third-highest crime rate in the U.S. and Richmond has the 14th-highest, according to an annual crime report just released by CQ Press.
Camden, N.J. has the country's highest crime rate, according to the report, "City Crime Rankings 2009-2010: Crime in Metropolitan America," based on statistics compiled by the FBI.
The rankings for cities and metropolitan areas include incidents of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft. The rankings include all cities of at least 75,000 residents that reported crime data to the FBI in those categories for 2008.
CQ Press has acknowledged that its annual crime rankings are considered controversial by some law enforcement agencies and that the FBI, police and many criminologists caution against rankings according to crime rates.
Law enforcement agencies state crime levels are affected by many factors including population density, the concentration of youth in the population, economic conditions, cultural factors, education levels and crime reporting practices.
Accordingly, the crime rankings are often deemed "simplistic" and "incomplete", CQ Press said.
"However, this criticism is largely based on the fact that there are reasons for the differences in crime rates, not that the rates are incompatible," CQ Press said in the release.
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums was quick to issue a statement refuting the report.
"While the FBI has questioned the validity of these rankings and the U.S. Conference of Mayors says this report is both 'misleading and a disservice to the public,' Oakland's own data says that our city is making progress in bringing peace to our streets," Dellums said.
Camden, N.J., whose crime rate and rate of violent crime were higher than any other U.S. city, had 2,332.6 violent crimes per 100,000 population, compared with a national average of 454.5, which landed the city dead last in rankings at 393.
Colonie, N.Y., had the lowest city crime rate, with just 54 incidences of violent crime last year. Joining Colonie among the lowest rankings are Mission Viejo and Irvine, both in Southen California; Amherst, N.Y., and Ramapo, N.Y., which had the lowest ranking last year.
Washington, D.C.-based CQ Press calculated the rankings using crimes reported to the FBI in six categories — murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor-vehicle theft. A total of 332 metropolitan areas and 393 cities was considered in the survey, using statistics released by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the FBI in September.
The City Crime Rankings is one of five annual reference books published by CQ Press that analyze and rank cities and states in various categories.
CQ Press is based in Washington, DC, and is a division of SAGE Publications, an independent academic and professional publisher
Behind Camden with the highest crime rate ranking are St. Louis, then Oakland, followed by Detroit, Flint, Mich., and New Orleans.
State College, Pennsylvania tops the list for lowest crime rate ranking among the 332 U.S. metropolitan areas that are ranked, while the Pine Bluff, Arkansas region has the nation's highest crime rate ranking for metropolitan areas for the second consecutive year.