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January 9, 2013

Jeffersonville officials skeptical of 'dangerous' city ranking



“It makes it sound like a place where you should be concerned walking down the street,” said Jeffersonville Police Department Assistant Chief Greg Sumler.  “That’s not the case at all. It’s never good, but I think you have to take it with a grain of salt,” he said of being included in the rankings.

“The study is based off of the 2011 uniform crime report,” said Sumler. “The uniform crime report is not mandatory. We submit to it because it assists us with federal grant money.”

In the research report description from NeighborhoodScout, it does state that information is is based off of 2011 year total data because it relies on final data that was released in November 2012.

Sumler explained that the uniform crime statistics are sent into and complied by the FBI, but it is not a requirement that all cities submit a uniform crime report — thus narrowing the pool of cities which could have been included in NeighborhoodScout’s research.

That is a factor Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore also pointed to when asked how he considers the city’s ranking on the list.

 “You don’t, because it doesn’t factor every city,” Moore said.

He added that the numbers in the study may also be misrepresentative because — especially in the case of larger cities — several different zip codes are lumped together to produce one set of statistics for a given city. But in the case of smaller cities, like Jeffersonville, there is only one zip code.

That practice could skew numbers, according to Moore, because some areas in a larger city that  have incidents of theft and violent crime far exceeding Jeffersonville’s won’t appear as high because they are linked together with zip codes from areas in the same city that have much lower incidences.

Sumler acknowledged another geographic hurdle: Being across the Ohio River from a major metropolitan area.

“You get some of the problem stemming from [Louisville],” he said, which could be a factor inflating some of Jeffersonville’s statistics. “People may think it’s a little easier to get away with things over here.”

Sumler added that many of the thefts and assault cases are linked to drug use, especially an increase related to prescription drugs.

“It’s a huge problem here,” Sumler admitted. “It’s easy for the drug market to run across the bridge.”

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