POCATELLO — Roughly six months after a study ranked Pocatello as the most dangerous city in Idaho, a new analysis has placed it among the 24 safest places in the state.
Security Baron, a security-based review, comparison and news site, recently ranked Pocatello 23rd on its list of the 24 safest cities in Idaho.
While the city came in below Rexburg, 1, Preston, 6, Idaho Falls, 13, and Blackfoot, 22, it still made it onto the list. That’s a vast improvement over the 24/7 Wall St. report earlier this year that ranked Pocatello as the most dangerous city in the state.
“We are pleased to see Pocatello recognized as a safe place to call home,” said city spokesman Logan McDougall.
Still, officials don’t put too much stock in the rankings that can, obviously, vary greatly in their results.
“As we’ve said before, when reading these rankings, citizens need to view them skeptically and they should always look into the methodology,” McDougall said.
For instance, the most recent analyses used data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports for 2016 and 2017. But the report from 24/7 Wall St., a Delaware corporation that runs a financial news and opinion company, looked at just the 2017 numbers.
The FBI discourages such rankings based on their data alone because there are many factors — population, economic conditions, cultural factors, etc. — that can cause crimes to vary from place to place.
“URC statistics include only jurisdictional population figures along with reported crime, clearance, or arrest data,” according to their online document, Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics: Their Proper Use. “Rankings ignore the uniqueness of each locale.”
Both the 24/7 Wall St. and Security Baron reports did include some economic data about the area.
Still, Pocatello Police Chief Roger Schei agrees that numbers can be deceptive.
He notes that the area has received additional funds to combat drug activity in recent years.
“Of course that leads to additional arrests and statistics,” Schei said. So higher numbers aren’t always a bad thing. “It means we’re doing our job, we’re out there doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” he said.
McDougall points out that Pocatello Police Department closed or cleared 91.08 percent of its cases in fiscal year 2018.
While the studies may disagree on the overall safety of the community, Schei believes the city is a safe place to live.
He says they have hardworking, dedicated and well-trained men and women at the Police Department. And they do a lot of things to not only protect but also support the community through various activities, including raising funds for the food bank and holding Secret Santa events.
“It all goes back to our mission statement of community commitment,” Schei said, adding that it also helps them as a department to keep a finger on the pulse of the community. “People are more apt to talk to us if they feel comfortable around us.”
McDougall agrees that the Police Department is committed to the community.
“Our Police Department is very community-orientated, and the members are involved personally and professionally in various events,” he said. “The department also has strong working relationships with other law enforcement agencies in the area.”
While those living and working in Pocatello likely know best about the safety of the community and the benefits of living there, officials say it’s always good to look for ways to make improvements.
“As someone reads rankings like this, whether or not we reach the same conclusions, having the discussion about what works well in Pocatello and what could be improved upon is a positive thing,” McDougall said.