Andrew Schiller, the founder of a website that recently ranked York City as No. 18 on its list of the "Top 100 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.," says his work is intended to spark a conversation among the public and community leaders about crime.

Mission accomplished.

And what that conversation revealed is what York City residents and people who work here already knew.

Is there crime in York?


Could things be better?

Of course.

But no one with any common sense put any stock in a list that claimed York City was more dangerous than, say, Chicago, Baltimore or Miami.

Location Inc.'s produced its latest ranking by calculating the number of Part 1 violent crimes -- homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault -- per capita using the 2011 Uniform Crime Report statistics police departments submitted to the FBI.

Granted, 2011 was a particularly dangerous year in York City. For example, the city recorded 16 homicides that year, the highest since 2003.

In fact, all four categories of violent crime showed increases, which York City Police Chief Wes Kahley attributed in part to a small group of criminals who caused problems at the end of the year and to a change in the way the department recorded statistics.


Kahley and Mayor Kim Bracey were put on the defensive by this "conversation," and they had a pretty good reason for feeling York was being unfairly maligned.

If one looks at all of the UCR categories -- not just the ones relied on -- dating back 10 years, one sees overall crime in York has dropped 15 percent.

Violent, Part 1 crimes alone have decreased 25 percent in that time.

Schiller stands by his list.

"In all the years we have done this, there is one constant," he wrote in an email interview. "If the local police don't like the result, then they say the study was flawed. If the local police like the result, they say the study was conducted accurately."

Point taken.

But in this case, Kahley makes a good argument -- especially because the FBI specifically warns against using UCR statistics to compare one city to another.

Asked to comment specifically on Location Inc.'s use of the UCR statistics, an FBI spokesman cited the agency's warning that says such rankings "lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents."

What those statistics are good for is gauging crime trends in a single location over time, Kahley said.

Put to that use, the figures show York is making progress.

Kahley acknowledges the crime rate in the city is no where near where anyone would like it to be.

But residents and visitors are no more at risk walking the streets of York than they would be in Baltimore or Philadelphia.

That's not perfect, but it's fair.