Madison ranked 4th safest city in recent FBI report

UPDATED Monday, August 5, 2013--6:45p.m.
MADISON--Madison is being ranked as one of America's safest cities. Business Insider ranks Madison as the country's fourth safest city, looking at factors like murder rates, robbery rates and rape.

But you should take Madison's ranking with a grain of salt: The safest city list is based off of the FBI's Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report. None of Madison's forcible rape reports were included in the FBI's report.

Even if those reports had been included, Kelly Anderson of the Rape Crisis Center says that's not necessarily a good indication of how safe a community is: "What we know is that sexual violence is one of the least reported crimes in any community," she said. "The most optimistic numbers are that 60 percent of victims are never reporting to law enforcement and it may be as high as 90 percent."

Anderson says sexual violence can--and does--have victims in all age groups, but that women between 16 and 24 are the most commonly assaulted. "Madison has a Big Ten university," said Anderson. "We know that when you have a large number of undergraduates you're going to be having a higher rate of sexual assaults in that population than in the older population."

She also says communities that do a good job supporting victims of these crimes could come across poorly if you only look at the number of reported rapes. "Communities, whether it's a university or whether it's a city or a county, that do a better job of supporting victims and encouraging reporting and having a compassionate response can actually end up looking worse, because you'll get more reports in those communities," she said.

She says Madison was one of the first communities in the country to create a support system like the Rape Crisis Center. "In terms of how safe are we in Madison, it's that kind of willingness to look at ugliness and address it and do something to change it that's going to create a safe community," she said.

We also spoke to Mayor Paul Soglin about the city's ranking. He says they won't be satisfied until there's no violence, but also says in recent years there have been improvements that are keeping the community more safe. "We're seeing improvements in regards to neighborhood activism, neighbors insisting on safe standards for their community, in terms of working with police," he said.

As to why Madison's reports of forcible rape weren't included in the FBI's report, a spokesman offered this explanation via email: "At the time of the Preliminary Annual Release the rape counts were in question. The FBI UCR Program was instructed by the Wisconsin State UCR Program to withhold the rape counts. The counts will appear in Crime in the United States, 2012."

For more information on the Rape Crisis Center:
Posted Monday, August 5, 2013 --- 5:11 p.m.

The FBI's most recent report on crime lists Madison as number four in a list of the country's safest cities in 2012.

The report says Madison has a murder rate 73% below the national average and a robbery rate 11% below average.

"This is great news to receive," Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is quoted in a release. "I am confident that programs like Community Policing and our Neighborhood Resource Teams that take city staff from a number of departments into challenged neighborhoods, make a huge difference. We won't however, be satisfied until we are ranked number one."

To read more about the report from Business Insider, click HERE.

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