MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new study by credit score and personal finance website WalletHub ranked Fort Lauderdale as the least safe city in America but Mayor Dean Trantalis and other city leaders claim the study is based on irrelevant data, like potholes and credit scores.
WalletHub compared 182 cities across three key dimensions: 1) Home & Community Safety, 2) Natural-Disaster Risk, and 3) Financial Safety.
Each of the dimensions was evaluated using 42 metrics, which were each graded on a 100-point scale, to determine an overall score.
Among the metrics was average COVID-19 cases in the last seven days per 100,000 residents, assaults per capita, traffic fatalities per capita, hurricane storm-surge risk level, tornado risk level, flood risk level and share of uninsured drivers.
However, in press release on Tuesday, the city said, “extraneous criteria used in the article included things like retirement plan participation, credit scores, debt-to-income ratios and hurricanes. Most people, including the bona fide state and federal law enforcement agencies where factual crime statistics are reported, do not equate these types of indicators with safety. Contrary to what was portrayed in the story, crime in Fort Lauderdale continues to decline. In fact, Fort Lauderdale’s most recent complete year official crime rate is the lowest on record since it began tracking crime statistics in the 1970s.”
“The safety of our residents and visitors is paramount to the dedicated men and women of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department,” City Manager Chris Lagerbloom said.
Tuesday’s release stated Fort Lauderdale maintains lower crime rates than many other cities listed in the story.
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WalletHub also used metrics including number of mass shootings, murders per capita, rapes per capita, thefts per capita, sex offenders per capita, law-enforcement employees per capita and firefighters per capita.
Tuesday’s press release stated “Not only is Fort Lauderdale a safe, large city, it is a city that wholeheartedly embraces diversity and inclusion. Fort Lauderdale was recently recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as achieving a perfect score in the Ninth Annual Municipal Equality Index, the only nationwide assessment of LGBTQ equality regarding municipal policy, law and services.”
Mayor Dean Trantalis also defended the city.
“Much of the data being used in the WalletHub survey has little to do with safety.” He added, “We will continue to pioneer initiatives and ensure that everyone who lives, visits, or works in Fort Lauderdale will feel safe, welcome and accepted, regardless of their background or beliefs,” Mayor Dean Trantalis said.
Other South Florida cities on the list included Tampa at 82, Tallahassee was 85. Pembroke Pines was 93, Jacksonville ranked No. 120, Port St. Lucie was 132, Hialeah was 136, Miami ranked No. 153, Orlando was 159, St. Petersburg was 170 and Fort Lauderdale was 182.
The safest city in Florida was Cape Coral, which ranked No. 44.
The safest city in the country was Columbia, Maryland.