OAKLAND — Oakland had the fifth-highest crime rate among U.S. cities in 2007, according to a widely followed but controversial report released Monday by the publishing company CQ Press.

Richmond ranked No. 9.

Oakland dropped one spot in the rankings after finishing No. 4 in last year's report. That was of little consolation for Oakland officials, even as they said they believe the city is on the right track with its public safety programs.

"We are obviously disappointed that we're not the fifth-safest city in the nation," police Chief Wayne Tucker said. "To explain why we're (No. 5), I think that we have a work in progress here. We certainly have a lot of crime we're dealing with on a daily basis, and I think the additional staff will have an impact on that."

Police Department staffing is at a record high after a group of incoming officers brought the department to 837 officers Nov. 14.

Tucker said a number of changes the department made this year likely bode well for Oakland's crime rate. Those changes include switching to a model of policing that emphasizes geographic accountability; changing officers' shifts so they are on the streets when they are most needed; staffing increases; and cutting down on the number of officers responding to calls outside their assigned patrol areas.

So far in 2008, serious crime in Oakland is down 3 percent compared with last year's rate, police data show. Homicide is up 1 percent, and aggravated assault is up 10 percent, the data show. Rape is down 9 percent, and burglary is down 6 percent.

Mayor Ron Dellums released a statement saying: "While trends are moving in the right direction, there is much work to be done. With time, I am very confident that the strategies we've implemented over the past year will continue to bear fruit and have more of an impact on crime and violence as we move forward."

The CQ Press annual report has been the subject of controversy. The company relies on FBI statistics to put together its annual list, and last year the FBI itself attacked the report, saying the "rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state or region."

Calls to the FBI on Monday were not returned.

CQ Press spokesman Ben Krasney said the rankings are based on a formula comparing per-capita crime statistics with national averages for six different categories of crime: murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, auto theft and burglary.

"There's some objection to it," he said, but "we're just making it easy for people to compare (crime rates) from city to city."

New Orleans ranked as the highest crime city in 2007. Following New Orleans were Camden, N.J.; Detroit, last year's No. 1; and St. Louis.

Richmond received a No. 9 ranking for the second straight year.

Reach Kelly Rayburn at 510-208-6435 or krayburn@bayareanewsgroup.com.