The number of violent crimes reported in the Columbus metro area is less than half the national average, ranking the area in the top 10 percentile of safest cities in the country based on violent crime statistics. In 2012, the area’s violent crime rate was the 35th lowest of the nation’s nearly 360 reporting metropolitan statistical areas.
Public safety is the top priority for Mayor Kristen Brown and the City of Columbus, including keeping violent crime at a minimum through strong police enforcement.
“On a relative basis, our city is extremely safe,” Mayor Kristen Brown said. “We have made cutting both violent crime and property crime our top priority. The Columbus Police Department, led by Police Chief Jason Maddix, has made exceptional progress at reducing all crime since we took office two years ago.”
In the past two years, violent crime in the City of Columbus has decreased by 6 percent. Property crime has decreased by 18 percent.
An article published by 24/7 Wall St. that appeared on other websites, including Time magazine and USA Today, portrayed an increase in the violent crime rate in the Columbus metro area from 2007 to 2012 that is very misleading.
The 24/7 Wall St. article states that the violent crime rate in the Columbus metropolitan statistical area, which includes all of Bartholomew County, increased 70 percent during that time. The reported increase in the violent crime rate for the City of Columbus is 39 percent, but the reported increase paints an inaccurate picture of the city’s actual crime trends. All of this increase can be attributed to a change in the Columbus Police Department’s reporting practices beginning in 2010 rather than an actual increase in violent crime.
Before 2010, aggravated assaults were underreported by the Columbus Police Department as part of its violent crime reporting. The reporting was corrected in 2010, artificially inflating the perceived increase in violent crime. Aggravated assaults constitute more than half of the incidents of violent crime in Columbus and therefore any error in reporting can significantly skew the statistics.
The article states that only cities that have maintained consistent reporting practices were included. Due to the Columbus Police Department’s change in reporting practices, the Columbus metro area should not have been included in the article.
In 2012, the Columbus Police Department hosted the FBI to train its officers and other local law enforcement agencies on accurate crime statistic reporting. Under Chief Maddix, the police department is committed to accurate reporting and is confident in the accuracy of its current statistics.
The article also states that motor vehicle theft increased by nearly 50 percent between 2007 and 2012 in Columbus. While this is accurate, a majority of the vehicles reported stolen to police are mopeds, which are not licensed and difficult for police to track. In the past two years, the trend is reversing. Motor vehicle theft has decreased by 37 percent in Columbus from 2011 to 2013.
“We continue to make significant strides in reducing crime in Columbus through community policing efforts, strong enforcement and innovative techniques,” Mayor Brown said. “We are committed to our long-term vision of making Columbus the safest community in the country.”