Random Website Ranking May Not Be Best Way to Judge Kodiak’s Safety

Jay Barrett/KMXT

You may have seen this, along with a little debate on Facebook, or on the front page in the Kodiak Daily Mirror, but either way, folks have been talking this week about a survey that showed the City of Kodiak is the second most dangerous city in Alaska.

The website “Road Snacks dot net” of Durham, North Carolina, says they only used one source for the listing – three years of data mined from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. According to that data, a Kodiak resident has a 1-in-75 chance of being a victim of violence and a 1-in-23 chance of being a victim of a property crime.

Road Snacks dot net’s methodology did not sit well with Chastity McCarthy, who, as the executive director of Discover Kodiak, is paid to be the community’s top cheerleader.

“If you go on to Road Snacks ‘About Me’ section, it literally says the mission is to ‘… try to paint a picture of what’s happening in a region based on ‘Friday Night Science’ — how’d you argue at a bar,’” she said.

The survey, done with figures found online by the Road Snacks crew, has also recently had posts titled, “The 10 Dumbest Cities in Ohio,” “The 10 Most Ghetto Cities in California,” and “The 10 Fattest Cities in Wisconsin.”

The study included Alaska cities of 2,500 people or more, but they only list Kodiak City’s population of about 6,500, not including the road system’s equal number of residents, which likely would have lowered the community’s danger score. 

McCarthy thinks that’s only one example of how incomplete their data is.

“I think that Road Snacks is just incomplete, and they kind of tort the information the way they want it to be torted, basically. So they put population 6,564. Well, source: it states there Wikipedia – not correct,” she said. “I just think that they basically tailored the information to sell the headline.”

And while Road Snacks dot net may have been trying to be helpful, McCarthy said a negative post like that could wind up doing the opposite.

“I haven’t had anyone contact me yet, but I have a few people in town on my Facebook who’ve shared it, and then I’ve seen their relatives from out of state be like, ‘Wow, I used to really promote or want to go to Kodiak, and now I don’t know about that.’ So it’s definitely going to have an impact,” she said.

In response, McCarthy has posted to Facebook several updated sources for data on Kodiak’s crime statistics and general livability.

“I just posted some factual web sites that actually provide real gathered data. So, the FBI statistical report, Bureau of Justice, Uniform Crime Reporting, the Alaska State Crime Reporting, America’s Health United Foundation reporting,” she said. “I think that those provide actually gathered statistical data.”

The most dangerous city in Alaska, according to Road Snacks dot net is Kotzebue. After Kodiak comes Homer, Wasilla, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Soldotna, Bethel, Juneau and Kenai.

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