Public: Detroit, Washington, Los Angeles Most "Unsafe" Cities

by Joseph Carroll

At least 7 in 10 say Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas are safe

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Among 14 of the largest cities in the country, the public rates Detroit, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles as the most "unsafe" to live in or visit, and Minneapolis and Seattle as the safest, according to a recent Gallup survey. Between 2000 and 2001, the number of Americans rating each city as "safe" increased for Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, and perceptions in these cities have remained steady since then. Philadelphia saw the largest decline this past year in its safety rating, as the city's rating is now down to levels found prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Ratings of Washington, D.C. and Detroit have also dropped back to pre-9/11 levels.

The poll, conducted Oct. 11-14, asked Americans to rate 14 cities across the country as safe or unsafe. Minneapolis, at 78%, and Seattle, at 75%, are the highest-rated cities in the survey. Dallas ranks only slightly lower, at 70%. Next are Boston (68%), Houston (67%), San Francisco (61%), Atlanta (58%), and Chicago (53%).

Fewer than half of Americans rate Philadelphia (49%) or New York (44%) as safe cities. The four lowest-rated cities this year are Miami (40%), Los Angeles (38%), Washington, D.C. (37%), and Detroit (33%).

Are the Following Cities Safe or Unsafe?
Oct. 11-14, 2004

Safe

Unsafe

%

%

Minneapolis

78

12

Seattle

75

18

Dallas

70

22

Boston

68

25

Houston

67

24

San Francisco

61

34

Atlanta

58

36

Chicago

53

43

Philadelphia

49

44

New York

44

54

Miami

40

56

Los Angeles

38

59

Washington, D.C.

37

61

Detroit

33

58

Gains …

Gallup has asked this question five times since 1990, and consistent with a substantial drop in the nation's crime rate, ratings of all of the cities are up considerably since that year. The perceived safety of seven cities increased between 2000 and 2001 and has remained essentially unchanged in these cities since that time.

Largest Gains in Perceived Safeness Over the Past Four Years
percentage saying "safe"


2004 Oct


2001 Oct


2000 Aug

%

%

%

Minneapolis

78

77

70

Dallas

70

68

62

Houston

67

64

59

Chicago

53

53

44

New York

44

41

33

Miami

40

39

31

Los Angeles

38

39

29

Minneapolis

Americans have historically rated Minneapolis as one of the nation's safest cities. In 1990, two in three Americans said the city was safe. Since 1993, at least 7 in 10 Americans have said Minneapolis is a safe city, with the highest ratings found in 2001 and 2004.

Dallas and Houston

Gallup polling finds similar results for two Texas cities, Dallas and Houston. The percentage of Americans saying Dallas was a safe city was 62% in 2000. The following year, 68% said Dallas was safe, roughly the same percentage found today. Fifty-nine percent said Houston was a safe city in 2000. This increased to 64% in 2001 and then edged up slightly, to 67%, in the most recent poll.

Chicago

One in four Americans viewed the Windy City as safe in 1990. This perception increased to 34% in 1993, then to 44% in 2000. Over the past two surveys, 53% of Americans viewed Chicago as safe.

New York City

Gallup's October 2001 crime poll, conducted about a month following the 9/11 attacks, found a substantial improvement in views of the safety of New York City, compared with August 2000. The 2000 poll found that only one in three Americans rated New York as safe. This jumped to 41% in October 2001. However, whether this shift is the result of the 9/11 attacks is not clear. While it is conceivable that 9/11 caused Americans to look at conventional crime less seriously, it is also possible that the 2001 result reflects the ongoing decline in the nation's crime rate over this same period. Gallup's polling on perceptions of crime also shows a sharp decline over this period in the public's rating of the national crime problem.

The current poll finds perceptions of the Big Apple at 44%. Polling in the early 1990s found between 11% and 20% saying New York was safe.

Miami

Miami is typically one of the lower-rated cities. In 2000, roughly 3 in 10 rated Miami as safe. This sentiment increased to 39% in the fall of 2001, and is essentially the same today.

Los Angeles

Like Miami, Los Angeles usually rates as one of the more unsafe cities in the country. Fewer than 3 in 10 Americans rated Los Angeles as safe between 1990 and 2000. Polling in 2001 showed that 39% said Los Angeles was safe. The latest poll results show little change.

…And Losses

The perceived safeness of three cities declined this year, down to levels found prior to 9/11.

Philadelphia

Gallup's 1990 poll found that 40% of Americans rated Philadelphia as a safe city. Perceptions improved in 1993 and 2000, with roughly half of Americans rating it as safe in each poll. Following the 9/11 attacks, 60% of Americans viewed Philadelphia as safe. Now, that percentage has dropped to 49%. Part of the decrease in Philadelphia's current rating may be the result of allegations of corruption in the mayor's office over the past few years.

Washington, D.C.

Only 22% of Americans viewed the nation's capital as safe in 1990. That perception gradually improved over the next 10 years, with ratings of 29% in 1993 and then 36% in 2000. In October 2001, a month after the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon, 43% of Americans said Washington was a safe city. This year, however, the rating declined to 37%.

Detroit

Detroit's rating also declined in the same manner as Philadelphia and Washington. In October 2001, 39% of Americans said Detroit was a safe city, up from 33% in 2000. Now, this sentiment has dropped back to 33%.

Little change

Over the past four years, ratings of Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, and Atlanta have varied only slightly, apparently unaffected by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and/or the public recognition that crime is down nationally.

Cities With Little Change in Perceived Safeness Over the Past Four Years
percentage saying "safe"


2004 Oct


2001 Oct


2000 Aug

%

%

%

Seattle

75

73

76

Boston

68

66

64

San Francisco

61

64

58

Atlanta

58

62

56


Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,012 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 11-14, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

21. Now thinking about some large cities, both those you have visited and those you have never visited, from what you know and have read, do you consider each of the following cities to be safe to live in or visit, or not? How about …[RANDOM ORDER]

[ITEMS A-G: BASED ON 495 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM A]
[ITEMS H-N: BASED ON 517 NATIONAL ADULTS IN FORM B]

A. Miami 

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

40

56

4

2001 Oct 11-14

39

56

5

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

31

65

4

1993 Sep 13-15

16

80

4

1990 Sep 10-11

17

76

7

B. Los Angeles 

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

38

59

3

2001 Oct 11-14

39

57

4

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

29

67

4

1993 Sep 13-15

22

73

5

1990 Sep 10-11

26

64

10

C. Detroit

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

33

58

9

2001 Oct 11-14

39

55

6

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

33

60

7

1993 Sep 13-15

26

65

9

1990 Sep 10-11

18

68

14

D. San Francisco

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

61

34

5

2001 Oct 11-14

64

31

5

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

58

37

5

1993 Sep 13-15

52

42

6

1990 Sep 10-11

44

43

13

E. Atlanta

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

58

36

6

2001 Oct 11-14

62

33

5

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

56

37

7

1993 Sep 13-15

59

31

10

1990 Sep 10-11

45

39

16

           

F. Dallas

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

70

22

8

2001 Oct 11-14

68

25

7

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

62

29

9

1993 Sep 13-15

66

24

10

1990 Sep 10-11

55

26

19

           

G. Seattle

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

75

18

7

2001 Oct 11-14

73

21

6

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

76

17

7

1993 Sep 13-15

73

17

10

1990 Sep 10-11

68

16

16

H. New York

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

44

54

2

2001 Oct 11-14

41

57

2

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

33

64

3

1993 Sep 13-15

20

76

4

1990 Sep 10-11

11

85

4

I. Washington, D.C.

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

37

61

2

2001 Oct 11-14

43

55

2

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

36

58

6

1993 Sep 13-15

29

66

5

1990 Sep 10-11

22

71

7

J. Chicago

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

53

43

4

2001 Oct 11-14

53

43

4

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

44

51

5

1993 Sep 13-15

34

60

6

1990 Sep 10-11

26

65

9

K. Philadelphia

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

49

44

7

2001 Oct 11-14

60

33

7

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

50

42

8

1993 Sep 13-15

51

37

12

1990 Sep 10-11

40

40

20

L. Houston

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

67

24

9

2001 Oct 11-14

64

29

7

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

59

31

10

1993 Sep 13-15

63

26

11

1990 Sep 10-11

55

25

20

M. Boston

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

68

25

7

2001 Oct 11-14

66

27

7

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

64

30

6

1993 Sep 13-15

64

24

12

1990 Sep 10-11

53

29

18

N. Minneapolis

Safe

Unsafe

No opinion

%

%

%

2004 Oct 11-14

78

12

10

2001 Oct 11-14

77

13

10

2000 Aug 29-Sep 5

70

18

12

1993 Sep 13-15

74

13

13

1990 Sep 10-11

66

11

23

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Gallup http://www.gallup.com/poll/14032/Public-Detroit-Washington-Los-Angeles-Most-Unsafe-Cities.aspx
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