San Jose was ranked safest city among cities with a population of more than 500,000 for six years before slipping to third on the list published last year. Honolulu and El Paso, Texas were ranked above San Jose last year.
The safest cities have been ranked for 15 years on a list released by CQ Press. The 2008-2009 list based on 2007 crime statistics shows Honolulu again in the top spot, with New York ranked second and El Paso third.
San Diego and Los Angeles, ranked sixth and eighth, respectively, are the only other California cities in the top 10 among safest big cities.
Michelle McGurk, spokeswoman for San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, said the CQ Press rankings are based on FBI statistics, but she did not know exactly how the rankings are compiled.
"Part of the challenge with the CQ rankings is that they don't reveal their methodology," McGurk said. "There has been some controversy as far as how this organization makes their determination."
However, McGurk said placing in the top five safest big cities is an honor.
"Here in San Jose, we enjoy the fact we are among the five safest big cities in the country," McGurk said. "The most important thing is not where you place on the list, but whether or not the city is actually safe. And by any measure, San Jose is a safe place to live and work."