Friday, September 19th, 2014

El Paso "safest" large city in US? Hold fire

Veronica Escobar spoke about the U.S.-Mexico border fence at a 2008 gathering in El Paso (El Paso Times photo).
Veronica Escobar spoke about the U.S.-Mexico border fence at a 2008 gathering in El Paso (El Paso Times photo).

El Paso’s county judge, Veronica Escobar, proclaimed: "When elected representatives from our own state make claims that our border is not secure, they are ignoring the facts. When you look at El Paso, Texas, for example, we are the safest city of our size in the nation."

Escobar, a Democrat, spoke during a May telephone conference call with reporters organized to critique Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas for voting against a Senate committee-advanced overhaul of immigration laws. The conference call was run by the Reform Immigration for Texas Alliance, which describes itself as a "statewide network dedicated to building support for comprehensive immigration reform."

Escobar’s reference to El Paso as the nation’s safest like-sized city reminded us of Democratic state Sen. José Rodríguez’s statement in September 2011 that El Paso had been named America’s "Safest Large City" a year after San Antonio, Houston and Dallas had the nation’s highest crime rates.

We rated that claim Mostly False; El Paso had low crime rates, but only a local press release had named it the nation’s "safest" large city--and its police department dropped the label. Also, the other mentioned cities did not have the nation’s highest overall crime rates; that was true only in comparison to a few huge cities.

Rodriguez had attributed El Paso’s "safest" status to an annual report by CQ Press listing crime statistics for cities with a population of more than 500,000. Similarly, Escobar relied on the 2013 CQ Press rankings for her statement, her county aide, Ruben Vogt, told us.

Problem: CQ Press dropped the "safest" label to headline its crime-rate rankings years ago.

See what else led us to our Half True rating in the full article, which is posted next to other El Paso-tied fact checks to the right.