Rochester is putting the sudden spike in crime rates on the list of demands for solutions this voting season. Candidates are trying to make sense out of the latest wave of crime, but their higher than the national average crime rate has been constant for over 50 years.
Rochester Institute of Technology puts out a report every year that compares Rochester to a bucket of 24 other cities. This “bucket” allows Rochester to compare itself to other cities that are ethnic and socioeconomic diverse such as Detroit, New Orleans, Pittsburg, Buffalo, and Albany. Not being ones to shy away from a challenge, they even included New York City and Boston. Once the ethnic and economic issues are comparable, then figuring out what is wrong becomes two steps less complicated. Where is Rochester when it comes to crime rates? What are their figures like for domestic violence? Are their leaders willing to do something about it? More important than Rochester and their bucket comparison, is where is ours?
Rochester’s population is 208,880 people with 51.7 percent recorded as non-white on the last census. (Comparatively, Buffalo has 256,902 people and 56.2 percent of the population is non-white.) Total crime rates for Rochester is 32 reported homicides (or 19.5 per 100,000 people) in 2015, with a rate of fluctuation that has not change significantly since 2000.
First step, the comparing Rochester to other up-state cities is easy to understand with us all sharing a similar geographic location and are both ethnically diverse. It is essentially comparing siblings.
Second, it also makes sense to compare Rochester to other medium size socio-economically diverse and even a few not as diverse, to see if size, ethnicity and income does influence crime rates across the nation. There will always be that someone that blames ethnicity for the problems, remember all those Italians that couldn’t learn English after they arrived? The Victorians were not thrilled with the noodle eating immigrant families. However, these same first generation immigrants had a high rate of property ownership. Despite, most second generation Italians having only graduated the 4th and maybe the 8th grade, there was a considerable tendency to open businesses and keep their extended family employed. Notwithstanding their economic contributions, they were viewed as swarthy rather short people to the Victorians. It appears that ethnicity doesn’t have much to do with crime, as compared to having a supportive family and community that looks out for each other. Rochester is taking note.
The third comparison is to the large and mega-cities. What!?, you say. Why would Rochester compare themselves to huge cities? Well, think of it this way, if you don’t know where the line is drawn how do you know if you have crossed it? The mega-city comparison is so that Rochester can compare where the average medium size city is and where the mega-cities are on a spectrum of crime rates. If Rochester moves away from its small bucket of places like Albany, Cleveland and Pittsburgh and closer to NYC and Boston, there is more than a little problem. Without the three points on the line to compare oneself to you don’t know where you stand… but others looking to move to your city will. From the outside looking in, people have the ability to Google your city’s crime rates and compare them to any group of cities they wish. It is a “If you can’t beat them, join them”. Below are two of RIT’s graph of cities being tracked on their bucket list.
Of all the crime types, Rochester has actually lower the number of individual homicides by 20% the problem is gangs and group attacks which is a problem across the nation, but keeps this particular rate high for Rochester. The other major problem Rochester faces, as does Buffalo, are spectacularly high domestic violence rates. Domestic violence walks hand in had with low income, but the loafer elite see it too. It exists at every class level and Rochester is taking it head on. So, what are they doing to change their crime rates?
First, they know where they stand and where their trajectory is taking them with the bucket comparison.
Second, they are tapping funding sources:
“As a means to implement the Violence Against Women Act locally,” Rep. Louise Slaughter, D- Perinton, announced a $750,000 federal grant intended to combat domestic violence in Monroe County.
The funding will be disbursed to Willow Domestic Violence Center, Legal Aid Society of Rochester, Monroe County Probation, Rochester Police Department Domestic Abuse Response Team, RPD Victim’s Assistance, the Rochester/Monroe Domestic Violence Consortium, and RESTORE Sexual Assault Services, with hopes of tackling every facet of domestic violence, from dating to law enforcement handling of domestic violence issues.
Third, they also have 35.6 police officers and 41.2 staff people per 10,000 people placing them on par with most of the cities on their bucket list. This allows them to respond within reasonable times whether the problem is domestic violence, taming nightclub districts, or simply keeping more police walking the streets. Fourth, they had this to say about accreditation:
Accreditation is a progressive and contemporary way of helping police agencies evaluate and improve their overall performance. It provides formal recognition that an organization meets or exceeds general expectations of quality in the field. Accreditation acknowledges the implementation of policies that are conceptually sound and operationally effective.
The New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Program became operational in 1989, and has four principle goals:
- To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible
- To promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of criminal justice services;
- To ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel
- To promote public confidence
And finally, they are talking about it, putting it out in the open. Without being honest with oneself, how could one ever hope to improve. As the candidates put together their action plans, and voters are watching closely, Rochester is looking at moving back into a range comparable to its peers. Only then can it work towards leading the pack.
Buffalo should be taking note.
Lead image: snowbear