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Amherst ranks as 4th-safest city in U.S. Buffalo up 10 spots on 'dangerous' list

The Town of Amherst was ranked fourth among the safest cities in America, according to a private research group's controversial analysis of annual FBI crime statistics.

Buffalo, meanwhile, moved up in the ranking of the most dangerous cities in the country to 24th this year compared to a ranking of the 34th most dangerous city last year.

The 14th annual "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America" was published by CQ Press, a unit of Congressional Quarterly Inc.

It is based on the FBI's Sept. 24 crime statistics report.

Amherst dropped two notches from having been ranked the second-safest city last year, but Supervisor Satish Mohan on Monday said he was pleased that the town still ranks high among the nation's safest cities.

"We are very much elated by the news and will keep working to make our citizens as safe as we can," he said.

As an aside, Mohan mentioned that his house alarm went off at 5 a.m. Monday, and that members of the Amherst Police Department were at his door in 10 minutes. It turned out to be a false alarm, but he was happy that the police response was so prompt.

Over the 14 years of the rankings, the town has ranked No. 1 safest six times, most recently in 2002, the third straight year Amherst was ranked tops.

Buffalo Police Department spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge on Monday said he was perplexed by Buffalo's jump to the 24th most dangerous city between this year's and last year's rankings.

"We've seen a steady decline in violent crime in the city for well over the last year," DeGeorge said. "Last year this time, the number of homicides recorded in Buffalo was in the high 60s, and at this time, homicides stand at 48."

DeGeorge said he was unaware of the methods used to determine the rankings, but he heard that CQ Press' annual analysis of FBI crime data has been called into question.

"We can't worry about some study, controversial or not, that says anything about violent crime, because this administration has been committed to reducing the violent crime rate in Buffalo, and there's nobody who can say we haven't done that," DeGeorge said.

The report looked at 378 cities with at least 75,000 people and its per-capita rates for homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft. Each crime category was considered separately and weighted based on its seriousness, according to CQ Press.

Detroit edged past St. Louis, Mo., to become ranked the most dangerous U.S. city in this year's survey.

Last year's crime leader, St. Louis, fell to No. 2., while Flint, Mich., ranked third. They were followed, in order, by Oakland, Calif.; Camden, N.J.; Birmingham, Ala.; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; Richmond, Calif.; and Cleveland. Rochester was ranked the 30th most dangerous city.

The study ranked Mission Viejo, Calif., as the safest U.S. city, followed by Clarkstown, N.Y.; Brick Township, N.J.; Amherst; and Sugarland, Texas.

Cheektowaga, Erie County's third-largest municipality, is ranked the 58th-safest city., while Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester, is ranked the 15th safest city.

The study drew harsh criticism even before it came out. The American Society of Criminology launched a pre-emptive strike Friday, issuing a statement attacking it as "an irresponsible misuse" of crime data.

CQ Press spokesman Ben Krasney said details of the weighting system were proprietary.

News Staff Reporters Harold McNeil and Sandra Tan contributed to this report.


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