Dispelling The Myth About Crime In Rochester

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!

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4 thoughts on “Dispelling The Myth About Crime In Rochester

  1. You need some better statistics my friend. First off you only have up to 2014 which only tells us the crime rate had fallen in 2014. Here we are in 2016 though what has the change been in the past two year?

    http://www.criminaljustice.ny.gov/crimnet/ojsa/greenbook.pdf

    This link provides some information on crime rates in 2015 and early returns on 2016.

    Couple of highlights:

    Total violent crimes are down 0.4% from 2015, they are also 3.2% below the past 5 year average.

    However, murder is up 18.2% since 2015 and is up the same percentage against the 5 year average.

    Property crimes are up 13.2% from last year while they are down 15.3% against the 5 year average. So presumably 2015 was exceptionally low on property crimes.

    Now all this should be put in perspective. As you properly stated it would be misguided to compare the city of Rochester to surrounding communities or others in their ilk around the nation. So if we compare Rochester to similar cities in our stay we can see how it does.

    Rochester: Violent crime rate: 87.6 Property crime rate: 393.8

    Buffalo: Violent crime rate: 111.8 Property crime rate: 433.0

    Syracuse: Violent crime rate: 79.3 Property crime rate: 353.2

    Albany: Violent crime rate: 80.1 Property crime rate: 325.2

    So Rochester is pretty comparable to similarly situated cities. So in the end could it be better ya probably, but it is certainly not the worst place to live. I would like to see what the stats for Chicago are because that place has been rough this past year.

    Closing point the worst place in NY Niagara Falls which I did not really expect at all posting a violent crime rate of 113.3 and a property crime rate of 515.6 which damn that just makes ol’ Rochester look like Mayberry.

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    1. Griffin excellent points! My focus is typically going to reflect long term trends, not year to year. We get caught up in what happens moment to moment, year to year, but what really tells the story is trends over time. I’m a big baseball fan.. During a 162 game season, a hitter can go through slumps and streaks.. To fairly judge a hitter, you have to look at what he does over the course of a full season. There will always been variables year to year but there is no denying the long term trend is a downward one :). Thanks for your great stats and intelligent commentary, keep it coming! 🙂

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