City officials dispute report listing Battle Creek as bad place to raise a child

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Battle Creek is not a bad place to raise a child, city officials say.

The website 24/7 Wall Street released a report recently stating that the Cereal City was one of the Top 25 worst places to raise a child.  Officials flat out disagree.

“It was a shoddy article,” said Police Chief Jim Blocker during an interview at City Hall. “I don’t understand the data. I really didn’t even understand the correlation between the title and the data itself.”

On their website, 24/7 Wall Street said they looked at a city’s graduations rates, pre-school enrollment, access to parks and recreation and crime statistics, among other categories. Of the 555 cities — that are considered cities by the Census Bureau — they ranked Battle Creek as the 22nd worst city to raise a child.   Fairbanks, Alaska was ranked the worst.

“It’s an opinion piece,” said Chief Blocker. “I think we should all take exception to an outsider taking a sucker punch against a community, certainly in our state and anywhere else.”

Chief Blocker said there were many inaccuracies in the report, including how they measured crime. The report stated that Battle Creek is a dangerous city with 559 violent crimes per every 100,000 residents.

“The FBI says right on their website you don’t use U.C.R. data, certainly the violent crime index, as a comparable between one community and the other because it’s not a fair comparison,” said Chief Blocker about the United Crime Report. “There’s just too many variables.”

Like culture, human terrain and the size of police agencies, he said, naming a few. There’s also population growth, which 24/7 Wall Street stated hasn’t happened in years. In fact, they reported that exact opposite was happening.

“I think they missed all dimensions of this community,” said Chief Blocker about the city which he claimed has grown by almost 10,000 people in two decades. “The fact that this is a resilient community that has over the years showed considerable improvement.”

Doug McIntyre, editor-in-chief of 24/7 Wall Street, said he hasn’t seen any improvement in Battle Creek in years. He’s from the city and said it’s hard to find any “pluses” about the place.

“They have a poverty rate that’s well above the national average. They have a median income that’s well below the national average,” said McIntyre, who was sent a copy of the city’s press release in response to his report. “I sent them back census data that shows they’re one of the few cities in the United States where the population is shrinking.”

FOX 17 spoke with McIntyre during a phone interview.

McIntyre said he and his staff gathered data from the FBI’s 2015 Uniform Crime Report, the American Community Survey (Census Bureau) of the same year and a few others entities listed on their website. McIntyre believed the big question is whether the city officials view of Battle Creek was accurate. He said they’re not.

Chief Blocker disagreed, saying that their report was poor journalism and not verifiable.

“It is a wonderful place to live and work and play,” he said.  “I’ve really found that Battle Creek is a special place and we need to be proud of ourselves but we always need to continually look for opportunities to improve.”

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