In an April 2018 Business Insider article, FBI crime statistics were used to rank the most violent cities in the nation. The data included the number of violent crimes committed in these cities including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Business Insider then used those statistics to compile and rank the most violent city in each state. Of the 40 cities named, Topeka, Kansas, was ranked 32 and had 29.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents. This ranking seems shocking, and to the Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran, a little unfair.
In an interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal, Cochran said, “my first reaction when I read it was, ‘seriously?’” he said when asked about the ranking of Topeka. “The article is a headline grabber. Once you read into it, the substance is very, very poor.”
Cochran pointed out that the article was misleading, largely for the fact that 10 states and Kansas’ two largest cities- Wichita and Kansas City- didn’t report their violent crime statistics to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Division.
Even the FBI makes note that reporting is voluntary and comparisions between cities leads “to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communties and their residents.”
Washburn University Police Chief, Chris Enos said “Washburn University crime levels have held pretty steady for the last years, and are relatively low compared to other universities. Washburn is different than the rest of Topeka because we are so focused on safety.”
Enos explained that potential students, and current students should not worry about the report, and that most violent crimes happen to individuals already engaging in risky behaviors.
Topping the list was Baltimore, Maryland, while at the bottom was Honolulu, Hawaii, holding the place at 40. While the Business Insider included that fact that crime is socially and economically complex, and the raw crime rates were not indicative of the whole picture, the ranking could be worrisome to Topeka residents, especially as they look to encourage new infrastructure and development.