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Old 12-10-2010, 06:02 PM
 
57 posts, read 196,761 times
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This forum and its members have been extremely helpful during my (successful) three-month search for the perfect place earlier this year, and I’m still grateful for this; so this should not be construed as criticism of the forum, but I’m still trying to figure out where this – in my book – apparent obsession with crime rates and safety is coming from.

More specifically, I’m always getting irritated when in every relocation thread (and other threads as well), NYC crime rates are used to discourage people from moving to certain neighborhoods, or even coming to NYC. It always reminds me of politicians using fear appeals when their agendas have little or no rational foundation.

For a very good reason, crime rates are descriptive statistics – they lack any substantial degree of individual-level predictive value. Only if you factor in situational variables (such as time of the day, crowdedness, weather, location specifics, proximity to responders, etc. etc.) and person-specific factors (a vast array of demographic, psychographic, and behavioral aspects, including age, gender, personality, tolerance for ambiguity, experience, level of intoxication, etc. etc.), then you would be able to assess the individual risk involved in moving to a certain place. Crime rates per se simply don’t provide us with any useful situation/victim profiles. They may help politicians to get reelected or facilitate the allocation of police across the neighborhoods, but for an assessment of individual safety they are fundamentally as useless as anecdotal evidence.

For example, and this is hypothetical, if the typical victim in a higher-crime area is a “young, white, male gang-affiliate” and the typical victim in a lower-crime area is a “white unaccompanied female in her 30s”, then a Caucasian woman coming home from work by herself might actually be at a greater risk in the lower-crime than in the higher-crime area (barring other mediating factors). So unless I have more specific information on the situations and victims, it’s impossible to determine whether I’m going to be safe or unsafe at a certain location.

In addition, if we rely on crime rates to make our relocation decisions, we need to remember that not only are “perceived safety” and “actual safety” not the same, but they also differ significantly between different people. In other words, I may feel extremely uncomfortable in a situation that you are completely cool with (so is one of us “wrong”?), or I may feel very comfortable and still end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

At the extreme ends of the scale, crime rates may have some value (for example, comparing a block with 10 homicides to a block with zero); but for the majority, aren’t we just obsessing over crime? Or am I under a false impression and this is just my very own selective bias? Or, worse, am I getting it all wrong, because – personally – I’m actually more worried about some crazy driver hitting me with their car than someone jumping me.
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:20 PM
 
Location: Where the sun always shines
2,170 posts, read 3,308,997 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cogita Ante Scribis View Post
personally – I’m actually more worried about some crazy driver hitting me with their car than someone jumping me.
In many areas getting jumped would be the least of ur worries. People talk about crime b/c they've been in the city for a lifetime and they lived it. They have the stories for you. They are more credible than say a transplant who lived in NYC for a couple of years and nothing happened to them. Many neighborhoods have a reputation for a reason. In the worst of areas u wont be a victim everyday but theres something called "increasing ur odds"
The thing that stands out about criminals in NYC is that they could care less about crowds or the sun being out, if u got it, and they want it than they will take it, or at least try. NYers are a bold bunch.
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:21 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, New York
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I agree, but I think people are trying to sound somewhat objective when trying to give an appraisal of a specific neighborhood. And crime rate is actually one of the only objective stats one can pull out to compare neighborhoods (the other one is home/rent price levels, which is very popular to compare on this forum as well). Also, areas with generally higher crime rate tell you that there could be a lot of shenanigans going on such as drug dealers/junkies, since most of the victims of severe crime in NY are usually people who are involved with illegal activities themselves. Most of the other comparisons tend to be subjective opinions of the posters which have to be taken with a grain of salt; at least crime rates are physical numbers.
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:53 PM
 
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I will have to agree with JackTravern. Why "increase your odds" of something happening if you dont have to. Many people in the city get hurt by criminals indirectly also. Living in a high crime area with shootings means stray bullets or "quality of life" issues like noise pollution from police sirens going to jobs and crime scenes. Not too long ago a poor kid having thanksgiving dinner with the family in the bronx was hit by a stray bullet going through the window which made the papers. Things happen and not everyone is as lucky as the legendary hipster who never gets robbed or injured.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:44 PM
 
57 posts, read 196,761 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktravern View Post
People talk about crime b/c they've been in the city for a lifetime and they lived it.
Very good point. But I hope they also begin to realize that NYC is not even in the Top-50 anymore when it comes to violent crime per 1,000 in cities with more than 250,000 people (2009 data). The place I came from was in the Top-10 and it still wasn't really a topic. Hence my impression that people up here are a little obsessed with it. But you offered a good explanation, and we all know that people's mindsets are hard to change.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gantz View Post
I agree, but I think people are trying to sound somewhat objective when trying to give an appraisal of a specific neighborhood. And crime rate is actually one of the only objective stats.
Excellent point. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ABklynDude View Post
Things happen and not everyone is as lucky as the legendary hipster who never gets robbed or injured.
I'm not a hipster!!! (as in: Kramer yelling "I'm not a pimp!")

Last edited by Cogita Ante Scribis; 12-10-2010 at 08:51 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 12-11-2010, 05:52 AM
 
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I don't know. Crime happens everywhere. I am, however, concerned about gangs. No one is more dangerous than an unloved angry kid.
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:36 AM
 
Location: No Sleep Til Brooklyn
1,409 posts, read 5,251,537 times
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I look at crime rates with a wary eye. For example, the murder rate may reflect the quality or speed of critical care more than the rate of violent crime. However, if you don't know anything about a neighborhood, the crime rate is a part of the picture that you can put together for yourself. It certainly isn't everything. I also look at income, age, education, and how many children in the schools qualify for subsidized or free meals.
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:37 AM
 
Location: Bronx
16,200 posts, read 23,056,691 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacktravern View Post
In many areas getting jumped would be the least of ur worries. People talk about crime b/c they've been in the city for a lifetime and they lived it. They have the stories for you. They are more credible than say a transplant who lived in NYC for a couple of years and nothing happened to them. Many neighborhoods have a reputation for a reason. In the worst of areas u wont be a victim everyday but theres something called "increasing ur odds"
The thing that stands out about criminals in NYC is that they could care less about crowds or the sun being out, if u got it, and they want it than they will take it, or at least try. NYers are a bold bunch.
Thats true like that kid in Times Square who wanted to be a Rapper and gave away cds to promote himeself. He pulled out a gun near a time square hotel and started shooting and scared the hell out of tourist. I forgot why he was shooting. Yeah he was bold. Any Criminal is bold dont matter where you come from. Its either your going to go to Jail or, your going to die with guns blazing!
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:40 AM
 
32 posts, read 82,091 times
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Cogita Ante Scribis, I agree with you! But I think the obsession with crime has to do with the type of people that are attracted to this board. If you go to StreetEasy, they seem obsessed with property value and they speak much less about crime. If you go to Brownstoner, they speak about renovation and new local businesses, like everyday they discuss this. I think different groups of people have their own unique concerns.

I also think the obsession with crime helps people justify their own biases, and people have A LOT of prejudices here. You can tell people 500 times that the arrests that took place on Bumdebum St. in East NY all took place in one crack house, therefore, they are not more likely to be at risk of getting mugged there than on Twittledee St. in the Bronx which had less muggings and they'll still say, "Why increase your odds though?"

It's buyer beware on this board. I think most posters know to take comments, even statistics, with a grain of salt.
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:43 AM
 
12,340 posts, read 26,141,966 times
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I see OP's point, but then how do we measure the safety of a neighborhood? Because it certainly is an issue that almost every newcomer wants to know about.

I would probably want to know about how many projects are in a neighborhood and how many people are getting mugged for their ipods on the way home from the subway.

I also have been increasingly more and more aware of how many pedestrians are killed in NYC. I don't remember the number but it is staggeringly high. Some intersections are notoriously dangerous so it would be good to know about those.
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