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Police Weigh in on Report Listing Santa Monica Among Least Safe California Cities

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By Jorge Casuso

April 5, 2022 -- The Police Department on Monday responded to a flurry of news stories based on a recent report that found Santa Monica was one of the State's least safe cities.

The report -- which was picked up by a dozen local television stations and news outlets -- was the subject of a Lookout article two weeks ago based on rankings compiled by the safety consulting website Safewise.

Based on FBI crime statistics and demographic data, the report ranked Santa Monica 224 for safety among 230 California cities that met the website's population threshold ("Santa Monica Among State's Least Safe Cities, Report Finds," March 24, 2022).

Santa Monica had 6 violent crimes and 42.6 property crimes per 1,000 residents, according to the Safewise report. That placed Santa Monica one notch above Compton for total crime and only above Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco for property crimes.

The statement issued by SMPD spokesman Lt. Rudy Flores questions Safewise's strict use of population figures that fail to account for the city's daytime population, which swells to an estimated 250,000 visitors.

"Santa Monica is more than a community of approximately 93,000 residents and there are significant factors that make our City unique," the statement said.

"Throughout the day and during peak seasons, Santa Monica serves as a jobs center and a hub for state, national and international tourism which attracts millions of visitors each year,"

Flores said the Department contacted Safewise to "determine the source of their metrics."

"In their discussions, Safewise indicated that they do not take into consideration the daily commuter and tourism metrics and agree it does impact the overall impressions to crime."

After Santa Monica's objections, Safewise posted the following note:

"It has come to our attention that, on occasion, data may be skewed by outlying factors such as large commuter populations, college campuses, and incarcerated populations," the website wrote.

"In those cases, crime rates calculated based solely on crime reports and population numbers may not give an accurate representation of a particular community.

"We appreciate these nuances and are considering their potential impact to future reports," the note reads.

The Police Department's statement Monday includes data showing that Santa Monica has seen a drop in Part 1 crimes -- murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson.

"Crime has fluctuated throughout the last five year but as we stand today, we are experiencing a reduction in our violent, reportable crime statistics," the statement said.

But it is property crimes -- burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft -- that accounted for Santa Monica's ranking as one of the least safe cities in California.

The Lookout article noted that other well-to-do Westside cities that border on Los Angeles also ranked poorly due to a high incidence of reported property crimes, which are given the same weight as violent crimes.

Beverly Hills ranked 204, West Hollywood ranked 212 and Culver City ranked 220 on this year's safety list. Los Angeles ranked 200, with 7.2 violent crimes and 21.5 property crimes per 1,000 residents.

Some of these cities, as well as San Francisco and Berkeley, also see their daytime populations swell beyond the census counts.

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