By: Tyler Curry
Crime rates are on the decline, but the ghost of Holiday crime still exists. Contrary to popular perceptions found in this YouGov poll, American lives are safer than they have been in recent years. Of the top ten cities in the United States, eight of them share significant decline. Whether by relief or disbelief, records have compelled much speculation from the public, regarding the possible explanations behind the phenomena.
The 2014 holiday season came quickly, along with the fear that crime will increase. An earlier report on Chicago crime trends could dispel this myth, as studies show December as a low month for criminal activity. We used Visart to look further into this misconception with data published by the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division at the FBI to analyze criminal offense rates from the top 10 cities in the United States (years 2005 to 2013) – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas and San Jose – omitting Chicago. Perhaps, these findings will dispel the ghost of Christmas crime.
The chart above compares the general trends between cities, an illustrated of population by normalized crime incidents. The parameter we used is annual crime incidents per 100,000 inhabitations. This is what we found:
1. New York City boroughs are like the suburbs compared to other major cities.
You read correctly. According to CJIS data, New York crime is not only on the decline, but has been since 2005. An article published in the NY Post noted NYPD commissioner, Ray Kelly, for his belief that the plummeting crime rates were attributed to the city’s better policing strategies: hot-spot crime predictions, stop-and-frisk, and Operation Crew Cut – to name a few. Not to be a Scrooge, but there remains a murky shadow among this positive decline: murders that do occur, in New York City, are typically cases of domestic violence. What’s more, stop-and-frisk policing has been criticized for elements of racial profiling.
2. San Antonio and San Jose are not a part of the declining crime pack.
San Antonio and San Jose both experienced crime hikes in 2008 and 2012, respectfully, but have each shown gradual declines over recent years. Each city’s current crime rate breaks even with records from year 2005 – a slow recovery.
3. If crime rates were social class, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Philadelphia, and Phoenix would be at the upper crust.
The chart show Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Philadelphia and Phoenix have the highest crime rates overall. Interestingly enough, three of the states listed above were also included in the YouGov survey. Results found that participants were less likely to select ‘Very Unsafe’ for Dallas (5%), Houston (8%) and Philadelphia (12%) than New York (21%). The above chart demystifies public misconception of city safety, throughout the United States.
Policing programs vary by state, as do the controversies and misconceptions. One thing is for certain: Americans in most areas can rest assured this holiday. City life offers a safer existence to those out-and-about this season.