Morgan Quitno Press is a research and publishing company based in Lawrence, Kansas, which compiles books with statistics of crime rates, health care, education, and other categories, ranking cities and states in the United States. Among the major categories are "Smartest State", "Most Dangerous State", "Most Dangerous City", "Most Dangerous Metro Area", "Most Livable State", "Healthiest State", and "Most Improved State"; some information is per capita while some is overall. In July 2007 Morgan Quitno was acquired by CQ Press, a division of Congressional Quarterly Inc.. Their ranking of jurisdictions in terms of "safety" has been criticized for faulty methodology and inappropriate use of data by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the American Society of Criminology, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
The FBI recommends against use of its crime statistics for directly comparing cities as Morgan Quitno does in its "Most Dangerous Cities" rankings. This is due to the many factors that influence crime, such as population density and the degree of urbanization, modes of transportation of highway system, economic conditions, and citizens' attitudes toward crime.
Cities of Illinois are not included in this ranking, due to a disparity in the way Illinois State police and the FBI report rape cases. Other cities may be excluded because of lack of some data.
In October 2007 the American Society of Criminology, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation asked the publisher to reconsider promotion of the book - specifically, "their inaccurate and inflammatory press release labeling cities as 'safest' and 'most dangerous'" - because the rankings are "baseless and damaging." In November 2007 the executive board of the American Society of Criminology (ASC) approved a resolution opposing the development of city crime rankings from FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCRs). The resolution states,
These rankings represent an irresponsible misuse of the data and do groundless harm to many communities [and] work against a key goal of our society, which is a better understanding of crime-related issues by both scientists and the public.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors criticized the "Most Dangerous Cities" list, saying the annual city-by-city crime rankings are "distorted and damaging to cities' reputations." In addition, it noted specific flaws in the methodology, for instance, its weighting of murder as the same as auto theft.
In addition, the Conference criticized Quitno's "Most Dangerous Cities" ranking because it did not adjust rankings of cities with wide-area city limits, such as Houston and Jacksonville, compared to cities with smaller city territory, such as St. Louis and Atlanta. Houston's apparent city crime statistics, for instance, are diluted because of lower crime in affluent areas within its broad city limits, whereas almost all the low-crime, affluent areas of the St. Louis metropolitan area are outside its much smaller city limits. The city area constitutes only 12.5% of its metro area. If data from adjacent suburbs were included in assessing crime in St. Louis city, its ranking would fall far down the dangerous cities list, with no actual change in number of individual crimes or personal safety. Metro area, rather than city, rankings include all suburbs for all MSAs, and therefore could be considered more valid.