June 5, 2009
The flyer sent out to all residents in Ramapo proclaiming Ramapo as the safest place in the country is a fraud. In fact, it is one of the more outrageous examples of marketing fiction to belch out of the St. Lawrence smoke machine. This piece, though, goes beyond the usual attempts to dupe the public. It, in fact, places the academic reputation of a publisher at risk, and, worse, it portrays the FBI as an organization that doesn’t have a clue when it comes to crime statistics.
It wasn’t the FBI that called Ramapo "the safest place in America." It was a company called CQ Press (www.cqpress.com). The company makes these awards and then sells the published data to politicians and real-estate people, among others. But they made some seriously mistaken assumptions about this year’s winner—that or they were mislead by their sources. Here’s what’s wrong.
+ Ramapo is a town made up of 12 villages and Unincorporated Ramapo.
+ CQ Press, which did the "study" City Crime Rankings 2008-2009, explained the following rules for choosing the safest city:
+ "The rankings include all cities of at least 75,000 residents that reported crime data to the FBI in the categories noted for calendar year 2007."
+ The city "with the lowest crime ranking" wins "the safest city" appellation.
+ Ramapo has a population of 108,905 (US 2000 Census).
+ "Ramapo earned the lowest city crime rate ranking with only 688 incidences of reported crimes and no murders in 2007." (CQ Press Press Release, Nov. 24, 2008)
+ RAMAPO WINS!!!
+ Uhhh, wait a minute. The Crime Index totals in 2007 for Ramapo was 688. . . and it was 656 in Spring Valley, and 73 in Suffern. That’s a total of 1,417 crimes reported in Ramapo in 2007 more than twice as many as CQ took into account.
"So let’s say we just forget about Spring Valley and Suffern police department totals. We’ll let ‘em think they’re in Orangetown or Haverstraw.
Now we’re back to Ramapo has 688 on the Crime Index.
But, wait a minute, without Spring Valley (population 25,464—US Census) and Suffern (11,006—ditto) the population for Ramapo falls below the required 75,000.
SOLUTION: OK, here’s what we’ll do. We’ll list the total population to include Spring Valley and Suffern, and we’ll just deep six the numbers about the 700 criminals in those places. Who’ll know.
And so, after this dishonest manipulation, you get a folded brochure in the mail proudly announcing that Ramapo (all 108,905 residents of it in all 10 villages, and two sort of undesignated areas near Hillcrest and Hillburn with 36,470) has only had 688 crimes reported to the index in 2007.
And, this brochure has in bold letters on the front the additional lie: FBI: RAMAPO SAFEST PLACE IN COUNTRY!
The FBI did not, nor has it ever made a direct comparative comment about safety in Ramapo. The people who made this statement created their own "study" based on fatally flawed information. The group, CQ Press, makes its money by publishing directories and these kinds of "studies" at $49.95 per copy (that’s in paperback), $99 for the CD, or $225 for the CD and database.
We have called CQ Press to get their comment on the problem with the incorrect numbers, but our calls have not been returned. In the event they do contact us, we will publish their response.
Bob Rhodes, Chairman of Preserve Ramapo, submitted a FOIL (Freedom of Information request) at Ramapo Town Hall for "all statistical reports submitted to the FBI since Jan. 1, 2004." He did this because CQ Press says they form their rankings from among cities "that reported crime data to the FBI in the categories noted for calendar year 2007." Bob was a little surprised when the FOIL was returned with the message: Request denied for the reason below: Record not Located. That’s what it said—Record Not Located. Now, they couldn’t have won unless there was "reported crime data", but the Town Clerk couldn’t find it. Could it have been purposely folded away in a drawer, in an inner office? Maybe it got lost in Spring Valley or Suffern.
Ramapo—The Most Unsafe Place in Rockland?
The recently posted crime statistics
for Ramapo on the state online index don’t seem to line up with the
fraudulent claims from the Supervisor that the FBI thinks the Town
is the "safest place in the country." The data for 2008 (the most
recent year for which the state has complete data) shows an increase
in every crime category kept by the New York State Division of
Criminal Justice Services, from car theft (up 21%) to a frightening
increase in forcible rape (up 500%).
New York State Report
In statistics posted on the Division of Criminal Justice Services, there has been a 16% increase in reported crimes in Ramapo from 2007 to 2008. The general Index of Crimes went from 688 to 799, including increases in every one of nine categories. These include:
An overall double-digit increase from 2007 to 2008. The State also lists statistics from the other two police forces in the Town. Spring Valley registered a 9% increase for Index Crimes in the same time span, and Suffern had a 14% decrease in their total. The most recent numbers for the County overall also had a double-digit spike of 12%. But the largest increase in citizen liability was reflected in the numbers reported for the Town of Ramapo. So, do you think the Town should print up a cautionary mailing to alert the residents about these increases? Somehow, I think the current Supervisor and Board might be more concerned with appearances rather than the actual facts in the matter.
Before you decide to fork over $50 for the paperback from CQ Press, I would check the real numbers at the New York State Criminal Justice Services. Go to http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us/crimnet/ojsa/indexcrimes/rockland.htm and look on the table for Ramapo, Spring Valley, and Suffern. There are stats for the last five years. The numbers for Rockland County are at http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us/crimnet/ojsa/indexcrimes/county_totals.htm.
After looking them over, you might want to find that mailer about "the safest town." Mark it return to sender, and put a note on it asking the Town to correct the numbers. Oh, and maybe ask them to give another look for those reported crime stats—they have to be somewhere.