Crime, as we all know, is a problem that has lingered from generation to generation, yet data and statistics say our society is getting safer and safer with new laws and technology. We seem to see more advanced and improved training given to our local law authorities and enforcers, but the question still stays, are our communities becoming any safer? First, let’s look into what crime is. If you were to walk down the street and get hit by another person, your first reaction is to retaliate or better yet call the cops. By this we register that a crime has been committed, and if the police are to get involved whichever party that guilty of it will most likely be punished by our penal system. What if you chose the third option, you decide to walk away. We can all agree that a crime was still committed, but this time the perpetrator got away with it. The next day you can ask a police officer about the crime that happened the day before, and he will deny such a thing happened in that neighborhood. He might even go on to say that town is the safest town to live in or what so ever, but we know otherwise. Let’s take it a step further, the weekly report of crime in the neighborhood is out and it says, “No crimes committed this week,” and you say to yourself “hmmm, didn’t ABC get assaulted by XYZ the other day on the street we all saw that, so why are the cops saying no crimes committed this week? There must be an error in that calculation.” We all know that example is a little farfetched, but that was just a segue into my next topic.
Crime rates, we get these stats displayed often on our television screen when it comes to the election of a new representative or federal/ government official. But how are they recorded? For starters, every time a crime is reported to the cops, it is logged, and after the cycle, the crime rate is computed with a formula, which is, the number of reported crimes reported to law enforcement agencies per 100,000 total population (Computational). Remember the outlandish scenario I previously made? Well since that crime wasn’t reported, we can safely assume that the crime rate of that neighborhood is zero since no one reported the crime to the cops. Now the rumor from other neighborhood is, “that neighborhood ABC lives in is safer than ours since their crime rate is zero.” Despite the scenario being a little too extreme, our society suffers similar problems. Problems such as inaccurate crime rates, and a false sense of safety in certain towns. Let’s dive into our neighboring town Glassboro, a town of about 19,835 people, the crime index over there is 16. To individuals who do not know what crime index is, the crime index is crime rating on a 0 to 100 scale where 100 is the safest. If your town should have an index of 80, which means your town is safer than 80% of towns in America (Neighborhood). At first glance at these statistics the thought of moving to Glassboro, if you had an, may have possibly ejected your mind, but did you know this same town harbors one of the finest colleges in New Jersey, Rowan University. Many things can be attributed to this driven up crime rate in Glassboro. From petty crimes to major crimes, all these crimes add up when computing crime rates. Back to my previous example, how does this differ from the scenario? How is Glassboro any safer than that neighborhood? Then only difference is the crimes in Glassboro are being reported, and the ones in that scenario were not. Is reporting these crimes harmful to the city’s image? Well, yeah they are, but reporting them is one step to creating a safer neighborhood. An earlier conversation between my professor and I, allowed me to realize how tricky it is when it comes to crime rates, and the improper reflections it has on the actual number of crimes committed in our society.
Let’s take a look at a town neighboring Glassboro, Williamstown. Hopefully, I recall perfectly; there was an incident where my parents had to decide between Glassboro, and Williamstown, which town they would live in, and, they responded, “Williamstown.” When I asked why, they responded, “Because Glassboro has a higher crime rate.” I come to find out that stat was not necessarily true. Glassboro is a fine neighborhood to live in, and the reason why they had a higher crime rate that Williamstown was because there was a college institution in the town. The notion that the crime rates of Glassboro are linked to crimes reported by Rowan students should not be dismissed. After all, some of these crimes do occur on campus and are recorded in Glassboro’s statistics; this is because Rowan University is located in Glassboro. If we could rewind back in time, and tell our ancestors not to build Glassboro State University, now known as Rowan University, we would be able to compare the impact of Rowan University on Glassboro. All we can do now is compare the stats between Glassboro and its neighboring town which does not have a college in it.
Another scenario, imagine you live in a town with high prostitution, and the newly elected governor decides to ride the city of its prostitution problem. Guess what the crime rate of that town will be driven up by a huge margin. This was because every single case of prostitution will be taken seriously and greatly investigated. What if that same governor decided not to attack prostitution firmly? You will find out the crime rate does not go up as much. In both cases, none of the towns ever got safer, but the only difference was, the crime rate rose up tremendously.