CVB Seeks Your Help in Combatting Incorrect Perceptions of City

A recent atypical spate of violent crime in southwest and south central Missouri coupled with the reemergence of a bogus story circulating on social media naming Springfield the most dangerous city in the country may have your guests and patrons asking if Springfield is safe.

Those of us with close ties to Springfield know the city is a safe place to live and visit but when questions arise, we may not be sure how to respond. Without adequate answers, perceptions of our city can be tarnished, which could have a negative impact on the number of people who choose to visit and do business here.

In an effort to correct the misinformation, the CVB has developed a list of talking points with assistance from the city’s public information office, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Springfield Police Department. We encourage you to study them and share with your staff members. We also encourage you to respond on social media sites to friends and family when you see they’ve shared stories using FBI Uniform Crime Statistics to rank cities.

We are not burying our heads in the sand when it comes to crime. As with any city or town, crime happens. But by no means is Springfield the most dangerous city in the country. We know that to be true. Help us make sure others know as well.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Call us at 417-881-5300 or send email to CVB public relations manager Susan Wade at swade@springfieldmo.org.

Talking Points for Responding to Stories Ranking Springfield as Dangerous

  • Some websites portray themselves as legitimate media when they’re actually just “click bait” designed to drive traffic to the site to generate advertising dollars. They do not follow ethical journalistic guidelines when producing stories.
  • We recently reviewed 11 stories posted in the past two years on various websites ranking cities by their crime rates. None of them were the same.
  • Many sites pull their information from the FBI’s “Uniform Crime Report” for those types of stories, even though the FBI “strongly discourages” against using UCR statistics for ranking. www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2014/preliminary-semiannual-uniform-crime-report-january-june-2014
  • Here’s the FBI statement on this issue:
      • Figures used in this Report were submitted voluntarily by law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
      • Individuals using these tabulations are cautioned against drawing conclusions by making direct comparisons between cities.
      • Comparisons lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents.
      • Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.
      • It is important to remember that crime is a social problem and, therefore, a concern of the entire community. In addition, the efforts of law enforcement are limited to factors within its control.
      • The data user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual agencies.
      • Further information on this topic can be obtained in Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics:  Their Proper Use.”
  • Also see “Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics: Their Proper Use” at www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/ucr-statistics-their-proper-use. This document explains the pitfalls of ranking and that the data should only be used for a city to compare itself to itself.
  • The Springfield Police Department produces a quarterly Public Safety Report available at http://springfieldmo.gov/171/Police.
  • “Springfield police have been recognized by the FBI in the past for their accuracy in reporting UCR crimes, but there’s evidence to suggest not all police departments are as conscientious.” Chicago police, for example, have been accused of underreporting. – News-Leader, February 26, 2015 www.news-leader.com/story/news/crime/2015/02/25/crime-springfield-deeper-look-stats/24031725/
  • “The city sees very few random attacks — most involve suspects and victims with some sort of pre-existing relationship.” – News-Leader.  February 26, 2015 www.news-leader.com/story/news/crime/2015/02/25/crime-springfield-deeper-look-stats/24031725/
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Laura Whisler is the Vice President for the Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau

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