Guntersville, Arab dubbed most dangerous cities; police say statistics are misleading

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — A list of cities dubbed the most dangerous in Alabama include Guntersville and Arab and that’s causing concern among citizens, but police departments say those statistics are misleading.

Number 6: Guntersville, Alabama. Number 8: Arab, Alabama.

Data compiled by a security company rank those cities as two of Alabama’s most dangerous.

Arab and Guntersville ended up on the list due to a relatively high number of crimes, based on their low populations.

The company that formulated the list says it used its own data along with data from the FBI to make that distinction. The company tells WHNT News 19 the list is unofficial, and wasn’t published by them. However, the list made it to social media and through that citizens in Marshall and surrounding counties have raised their concerns.

But do those statistics paint an accurate picture?  Guntersville and Arab Police Departments tell us it does not.

“The information as far as the numbers of crimes is correct,” Arab Police Assistant Chief Shane Washburn says, “What’s incorrect is the population number. It’s just taking into consideration our city population.”

Throughout Marshall County, there are signs showing the area various police departments cover outside of the city limits. They’re called police jurisdictions.

Arab’s jurisdiction spreads into four counties, covering 150 square miles. That makes the number of people in Arab’s coverage area jump from about 8,000 to 25,000.  “They’ve compiled all of our crime statistics with only 8,000 people when actually they needed to compile that crime statistic with 25,000 people,” Assistant Chief Washburn says.

Guntersville Police Chief Investigator John East says their jurisdiction spans more than half of Marshall County.  He says more than half of their crime occurs outside of city limits. “For the Guntersville Police Department, the last two murders occurred in 2009, and those took place in the police jurisdiction.”

Arab Police say more than half of their crime occurs outside of the city limits as well. Assistant Chief Washburn says their last homicide investigation inside city limits was more than a decade ago.

Both departments say they want the public to understand the reality behind the statistics, and to know these departments are always on the job.

We reached out to the security company for a statement.  A representative from Safe Choice Security sent the following to WHNT News 19:

“While our crime data does line up with the FBI’s for populations within the city limits of the cities we researched, we recognize that the FBI’s local census does not account for approximately 43.75% of Alabama’s population. That being said, Safe Choice Security has never and will never publish an official list of Alabama’s most dangerous cities. We’ve also added a disclaimer to all of our articles to make this all clear.”

5 comments

  • Michael

    Police slay me. They spend a ton of time patting themselves on the back for the high number of crimes they bust, but then they turn around and complain when those numbers are used to describe how dangerous their city is.

    • Branko Pezdi

      Except the cities are not as dangerous as they were made out to be. Did you not comprehend the article? (rhetorical question)

      • Michael

        I did. You think Arab and Guntersville were the only cities that had their numbers paint a false perception due to wider jurisdiction outside their limits? With the good comes the bad and with the sweet comes the sour.

  • fred

    If you have ever spoken to Guntersville police chief Peterson ,you know they cant patrol their own city limits, much less wider jurisdiction.

  • Yvonne

    If you want to see real Guntersville danger, put Will Ainsworth in office. Mr. Ainsworth comes from one of the richest, most racist families in Alabama, and that’s the ilk he’s going to be representing. Now, that’s something to be afraid of.

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