Atlantic City is the seventh most dangerous city in America, according to a website that uses FBI and population numbers to calculate — and then compare — violent crime rates.
There were nearly 19 crimes per 1,000 residents last year, Neighborhood Scout reports. That’s more than six times the state average and well above the national average of just less than four.
To see the list of the Top 100 most dangerous cities in the report, click here.
"The research they use is based on faulty data,” police Chief Ernest Jubilee said. “If you just consider the residents of Atlantic City when you’re trying to identify crime trends, it skews the numbers.”
For years, some city leaders and especially law-enforcement officials have argued that Uniform Crime Report data underreports Atlantic City’s population because it doesn’t consider the thousands of workers who come into the city each day, and the millions of annual visitors.
“You put those numbers into the mix and you compare the crime rate based on those numbers and that demonstrates how safe Atlantic City is,” Jubilee said.
The city has been fighting a growing image of violence aided by 19 homicides last year and an increase in gun violence. When two Canadian tourists were stabbed to death May 21, the Philadelphia Daily News labeled it a “Tourist Death Trap.”
But the tourism areas are safe, Tourism District Commander Tom Gilbert said.
“The likelihood of an individual coming into the city right now — the Tourism District areas — the odds of them being exposed to a crime or a being the victim of a crime from a percentage standpoint is very, very low,” he said. “We’re not going to rest on the laurels of that. We continue to go very aggressively to stop the violence and find the underlying causes of crime.”
Jubilee points out that, despite being a resort destination, the city’s designation in figuring crime statistics is as an urban area. Therefore, unlike resort towns such as Wildwood and Seaside Heights, Atlantic City does not get to factor in its visitor population.
“You can make numbers say whatever you want them to say if you just omit certain facts,” Jubilee said. “If you officially added in the number of people who actually come here on a regular basis, we’d probably end up being one of the safest cities in the state.”
The majority of violence in the city is in the neighborhoods, with much of it private beefs between factions. Authorities seldom release the connections in theses cases, but often people who are killed have connections to other killings or have been involved in previous shootings or other crimes.
“One murder is too many,” Jubilee said. “And definitely, for us, 18 (plus a police-involved shooting) is too many. But how do you say Atlantic City is less safe than Chicago?”
Chicago, which is 79th on the list, had more than 500 murders last year. The list also puts Atlantic City as only the second most dangerous in the state, with Camden at No. 2 overall. Trenton is 29th and Newark 51st.
“We continue to work very hard on the issues, like tip411 (anonymous texting) and ShotSpotter (audio gun detection) and making sure cameras are refurbished,” Gilbert said. “We’re doing what we’ve been collectively asked to do (with the governor’s Clean and Safe initiative). We’re proud of the fact that we’ve had millions of people come to Atlantic City and enjoy the various events. We’re going to keep at it.”
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