WalletPop.com and NeighborhoodScout, the websites that brought us that potentially-flawed list of the Country's 25 most dangerous neighborhoods — a list on which Atlanta appeared four times — is back with a decidedly more positive report: the 29 safest neighborhoods.
Atlanta appears on the list, not by virtue of having one of the safest neighborhoods, per se, but rather by being one of 29 "major American cities." A safe neighborhood in each city was chosen based on the same FBI crime data used in the previous study.
A little misleading? Probably.
In an email titled "Atlanta neighborhood among safest," a PR flack with AOL — WalletPop's parent company — writes:
"You may have recently heard that a neighborhood in Atlanta was named one of the most dangerous in the country. I’m sure this struck a nerve for some of your local residents, so I thought I would let you know ... WalletPop will be announcing the 29 safest neighborhoods in top cities across the U.S. and it includes an Atlanta neighborhood." [That neighborhood is "Paces," by the way.]
The list did strike a nerve with locals, particular those in city leadership. When the study was published in early October, the Atlanta Police department immediately took issue with the methodology used in its creation, a system devised by NeighborhoodScout's Dr. Andrew Schiller. At that time, APD Public Affairs Manager Carlos Campos said:
We will not dispute that there are neighborhoods in Atlanta that experience more crime than others, for a variety of factors. The department works closely with the community, non-profits and other government agencies to ensure proper resources are deployed to address such issues. We take fighting crime seriously, and do not believe it can be reduced to catchy headlines about 'dangerous neighborhoods' based on potentially flawed methodology. It’s a disservice to the community we work hard to serve.
Upon further inspection of the study, Ferguson says he found several flaws in Schiller's methods. In the four neighborhoods (actually, they're Census tracts) that appear on the most dangerous list, Schiller's crime counts were extremely high and population counts were extremely low, which would make it look like there was more crime per capita. Also, Ferguson says that three of the four neighborhoods are located in the city's top "daytime population areas," meaning areas that see a high volume of daily visitors who wouldn't be counted as contributing to the population, but could contribute to a spike in the crime rate. For instance, the neighborhood that appeared on the list as "Carter Street" encompasses the Georgia World Congress Center, Philips Arena, the Georgia Dome, CNN Center, Zone 5 police precinct, the Vine City Marta Station, the CNN Marta Station, Centennial Olympic Park, Morris Brown College, the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola.
Basically, WalletPop and NeighborhoodScout lists might not be terribly reliable. Oh, but, yeah. Good for you Paces!
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