No, the Internet wasn't created solely to distribute lists, but it certainly seems that way at times. Every day, news consumers are bombarded with rankings of this, that and the other, and if there's a local hook, you can bet the content-starved mainstream media will promote the hell out of them. But the quest for clicks often produces a seriously skewed take on an assortment of subjects, as two new attempts to identify the safest cities in Colorado demonstrate.
The common theme of the separate studies, by the websites Security Baron and BackgroundChecks.org, is that if you choose to live in Denver or another of the state's urban areas, you've either got a death wish or you're a fool who doesn't realize that each time you step out your door, you're entering an apocalyptic nightmare zone where roving bands of bloodthirsty maniacs are waiting to slice you, dice you and dine on your flesh.
At least that's our interpretation of stats that consistently grade tiny towns as secure, particularly in comparison with more populous places. And if the communities are small and wealthy, that's even better.
Take the Security Baron top ten, which was determined by comparing rates for murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, arson, theft and stolen cars with the number of police officers per 1,000 people and other similar factors.
The number-one community, Cherry Hills Village, is marked by some of the most highly concentrated affluence of any location in Colorado, and the rest represent a blend of bedroom communities and more rural enclaves. Moreover, not one of them boasts a population greater than 25,000, and the majority have around half that amount or fewer.
1. Cherry Hills Village
The smaller-is-better vibe echoes throughout the remainder of the list. The first appearance of a city with a population of at least 50,000 is Parker, whose 52,179 residents settle in the 17th spot. A metropolis with a citizenry that hits six digits doesn't appear until Fort Collins, at number 31. As for the biggest cities, Colorado Springs lands at 46th and Denver at 54th out of 69, with Glendale coming in last.
Of course, the vast differences in size and scale make such comparisons nonsensical: They're more grapes and watermelons than apples and oranges.
In an attempt to mitigate this issue, the folks behind the BackgroundCheck.org analysis filter out some less peopled towns. Unfortunately, though, they only cut off those with a population of under 10,000, then weight FBI crime stats in a very simplistic way: minus-50 percent for violent crimes, minus-25 percent for property crimes and plus-25 percent for the law-enforcement rate. The results are quite similar to those racked up by Security Baron.
Here is the BackgroundCheck.org top ten, complete with population figures.
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10. Steamboat Springs
As for Colorado Springs and Denver, they finished 34th and 39th, respectively, out of a possible 42.
Is there anything helpful about the information provided by either of these rosters? Sure, if you're collecting positive PR for places such as Cherry Hills and Fruita, which now have upbeat articles community boosters can use the next time they're trying to promote new development. But they're useless for any person who already knows whether she or he wants to live in a big city or a small town. Besides, some of the places on these lists are so modestly populated that a single violent crime could presumably knock them down several slots.
We're not saying every report of this sort currently floating around online is similarly suspect. But wait a few minutes and there'll probably be a list about it.