Originally Published: December 11, 2016 6:03 a.m.
PRESCOTT — A new survey of crime in Arizona assembled by a Phoenix law firm places Prescott as the 17th most dangerous city out of 40 ranked, drawing the ire of the city’s Deputy Police Chief.
Prescott Valley was ranked the 28th most dangerous city.
The most common crimes?
The crimes most commonly seen around this area are not the high-profile offenses that make the news in large cities, like Phoenix.
Prescott Valley Police Chief Bryan Jarrell said the three most common crimes are:
• Drug-related offenses
• Domestic violence, between live-in partners or spouses
• Retail theft
The survey, commissioned by the Orent Criminal Law firm and produced by 1 Point 21 Interactive, took into account factors other than the crime rates of cities with a population of over 10,000.
“There is more to determining a city’s level of danger or safety than simply looking at crime,” the survey noted, pointing out that it considered three criteria:
• Police investment and effective strength
• Community socioeconomic factors
“Within these dimensions, we collected and analyzed 14 different metrics,” the survey reported, focusing on 2015 statistics.
Topping the list of “most dangerous cities” in Arizona is Tucson. It ranks highest in crime, with about 656 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, 7th “worst” in community factors, which take into account the poverty rate, unemployment, percentage of high-school graduates, the median income, and average temperature. (The study noted that “high temperature has been linked to elevated rates of violent crime.”) Tucson does fall mid-range in the “law enforcement and effective strength” category.
Prescott, the survey reported, had the 15th highest violent crime rate, but that was offset a bit by a #29 ranking in community factors and a #23 ranking in law enforcement investment and strength. Prescott, the study said, has 69 officers protecting 599 citizens each, spending $269 per citizen in 2015.
Deputy Police Chief Amy Bonney said she does “not support the finding that Prescott is the 17th most dangerous city,” and that “cannot validate” the criteria other than the crime statistics.
Bonney took issue with the study’s extrapolation of the data – the authors expressed crime as a number per 100,000 population, which means 137 instances of violent crime that occurred show up in the study as 330.97 per 100,000.
Crime in Arizona 2015 from the Arizona Department of Public Safety
There were 226,115
Crime Index Offenses reported in 2015
December recorded the highest incidence of offenses with 20,250
February recorded the lowest incidence of offenses with 16,638
The value of property stolen was $259,067,957
The value of property recovered was $64,500,490 for a recovery rate of 24.8 percent.
Stolen motor vehicles accounted for 32.8 percent of the total stolen property and 75.8 percent of the total recovered property.
The crime rate for 2015 for Arizona was 3,374.8 crimes per 100,000 population based on an estimated population of 6,758,251
VIOLENT CRIME SUMMARY OFFENSES
There were 24,569 violent crimes reported in 2015.
Violent crimes accounted for 10.8 percent of the total crime Index.
The highest number of violent crimes was reported in July with 2,279 offenses while the lowest number was reported in February with 1,652 offenses.
Aggravated assault accounted for the largest incidence of violent crimes with 15,364 offenses while homicide accounted for the smallest with 279 offenses.
There were 8,942 arrests for violent crimes in 2015.
“In fact, the 137 incidences of violent crime reflects a decrease when compared to 2014, and is consistent with, or markedly lower than, violent crime occurrence over the past 10 years,” she said.
Bonney also said the survey’s use of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports does precisely what the FBI said should not be done with the data.
“UCR data are sometimes used to compile rankings of individual jurisdictions … These incomplete analyses have often created misleading perceptions which adversely affect geographic entities and their residents,” the FBI UCR Report for 2015 stated. “Despite repeated warnings against these practices, some data users continue to challenge and misunderstand this position.”
Prescott Valley’s violent crime rate was reported as the 24th highest, but again, that was mitigated by a #20 ranking—half-way through the list –of law enforcement investment. PV, the survey reported, has 66 officers covering 631 citizens each and spent $234 protecting each of them last year.
The town also ranked 23rd for community factors.
Reversing the way the study expresses rankings, Prescott Valley Police Chief Bryan Jarrell said, “I am pleased that Prescott Valley ranks as the 12th safest city in Arizona. As the largest municipality in Yavapai County, ensuring the peace and safety of our citizens is our greatest responsibility.”
He listed several factors that contribute to that ranking, including the support of the town council and manager, partnerships with other agencies, good relationships with community organizations, and the police department’s “devotion and tireless efforts.
“I can honestly say I am humbled to lead a dedicated law enforcement agency in a town as wonderful as Prescott Valley,” Jarrell added.
Notable were the rankings of Camp Verde second in the number of assaults per capita, and Cottonwood as second place for highest investment in police per citizen.