Smithfield town officials say a report from a group claiming the Town has the seventh highest crime rate of any city in North Carolina is false.
The report from Home Snacks, based in Durham, reportedly analyzed crime data submitted to the FBI for the last several years to come up with the ranking. In a press release the group said, “…in order to help North Carolina residents–and future residents–of this fine state know just how close they are to danger, we crunched some numbers from the annual FBI report. Some of the results were a little surprising, while some were not.”
The top 10 list of dangerous cities were: (1) Lumberton, (2) Henderson, (3) Kinston, (4) Laurinburg (tie), (4) Statesville (tie), (6) Goldsboro, (7) Rocky Mount (tie), (7) Smithfield (tie), (9) Salisbury, and (10) Burlington.
Nick Johnson, a content editor for Home Snacks, said the organization looked at FBI crime data over the last 5 years, put the data in a computer database, and sorted the data based on the population based on violent and property crimes. The group ranked cities with a population of 10,000 or higher.
Johnson said Smithfield is trending to become a safer place. “Things are improving,” he said.
Johnson described the website as being new and made up of journalist and content editors from organizations. Johnson said they wanted to provide an easy way for people to look at basic information about their communities without bogging people down with too many details.
Smithfield town officials were quick to point out their skepticism about the report.
Police Chief Michael Scott said, “Using math of this sorts puts our Smithfield property crime victim possibilities almost twice as bad as Chicago, which shows how foolish it is.”
Town Manager Paul Sabiston, in an internal email to town council members called the report “the equivalent of an 8th grade math project.”
“Considerable discussion has been taking place in the last few days regarding the release of crime data. Following the equivalent of an 8th grade math project, the organization releasing this information indicated that Smithfield was one of the top ten cities in North Carolina with the highest rate of criminal victimization,” Sabiston said in his email.
“These self-proclaimed statisticians fail to recognize the influx of people that stop in Smithfield each day, but instead based their math on residential population only. This study (using the term loosely) is considerably flawed in its methodology and fails to really identify anything worthwhile in its results.