We watch the news in horror. We look at crime caught on video on our Facebook feed. We write posts on social media wondering “what has this country come to? What kind of world are we raising our children in?”
The answer to this question is simple. A safer one than most of us knew growing up.
“Wait wait,” you shout, “crime is everywhere! We aren’t safe anymore!”
This simply isn’t true. Violent crime in the United States peaked in the early 1990’s and has been on a drastic decline ever since.
There are a number of working theories on why crime has diminished so dramatically nationwide, but the most important piece of this conversation is that, contrary to popular belief, crime in the U.S. has decreased considerably in the last 20 years.
“How about Rochester? Isn’t our crime rate higher than the rest of the country?” Yes, absolutely it is. But again, contrary to popular belief, it is not on the increase, it is on the decline.
As you can see, while still much higher than the national average, crime in Rochester is steadily decreasing. And remember, the national average includes all communities over 2,500 people, like Pittsford, Victor and Mendon (wonderful communities, but predominantly middle to upper-middle class households) that don’t have the kind of socioeconomic diversity that Rochester does.
“How can this be,” you ask. “It seems like someone’s getting killed every night in Rochester. It’s all over the news and Facebook.”
Yes it is. You’re right. We do live in a community that struggles with poverty and thus violence, gang activity and drug abuse. I am not making light of the horrors that happen every day in our community. These are problems we need to work hard to fix, and we need to attack these problems with a sense of urgency.
What I do want to dispel is the commonly held misconception that these incidents are happening more frequently than in the past. The truth is, just like the national average, crime is declining in Rochester, and has been for some time.
The rise of social media has given us a front row seat to the atrocities that occur in Rochester more than ever before. Every murder, every sex crime, every home invasion is now front and center in our kitchen as we eat breakfast in the morning. Never before has it been so easy to be hypnotized by the violence in our community, and never before has this level of exposure misled us to believe Rochester is a bad place to be.
One of the reasons I started RochesterGuy a month ago was to dispel the false truths that taint the view of our city. While we have a lot of work to do to combat crime, the statistics don’t lie… Crime is actually on the decline. For those who have a “lost cause” outlook on Rochester due to the violent news reports every night, look at the trends and you will see, we are headed in the right direction. With good ideas and hard work, we can keep it moving that way!