The safety of our society has and always will be one of the concerns of ours. Crime rates were introduced to help us keep track of the number of crimes committed in a neighborhood. But before we talk about crime rates, let’s establish the legal definition of a crime. According to For Law Dictionary by John Bouvier, crime is “a violation of a law in which there is an injury to the public or a member of the public, and there is a term in jail or prison, and/or a fine as possible penalties.” In other words, all John Bouvier is saying is that a crime is an action that breaks the rule of law, or the laws of a community.
Now back to crime rates and how they come up with the numbers. In the United States, the mathematical definition of crime rate, according to the “Computational Formulas” of California’s government, is the number of crimes reported to law enforcement agencies per 100,000 total population. This simple formula involves dividing the number of crimes reported by the entire population of the town and multiplying it by 100,000. This is a great general formula but it provides an inflated data when the crime rate for towns with a population less than 100,000 people. According to Crime Rate Law and Legal Definition, a post on USLegal website, we understand that “crime rates help law enforcement agencies access the effectiveness of a crime control policy…” That’s a nice way of saying crime rates also reflect on the impotence of law enforcement agencies in a community.
For instance, Glassboro, a small suburban town in south New Jersey, has a high crime rate in comparison to most other suburban towns in both New Jersey and the nation. Can this be the result of ineffective policing in Glassboro, or failing safety policies and procedures in Glassboro? The answer to that is neither, but one thing for sure is, the police officers in Glassboro are responding to lots of 911 calls. Crime rates as previously discussed can be calculated only if our officers are made aware of the “crime” that has been committed, and after assessing the situation, the incident is logged and decided [the incident is not decided] if further action needs to be taken. But what if our law enforcement officers aren’t made aware of certain crimes that occur in a neighborhood? In this case, there will be no record of those offenses, and they may never be reflected in the city’s crime report. Even better, certain crimes can be categorized in ways that can mislead viewers or inhabitants that their community is safer than some other town, which can create a false sense of safety relative to other towns.
Regardless of that, how does that define Glassboro’s rising crime rate? Well, understand that even though there is a legal definition of crime provided, there are slight variations in the definition as we go from town to town and even generation to generation
s. What might be a crime in Glassboro, may be overlooked in another city, or the criminal being let off with a warning or no legal implications. Also, cases that might be deemed as serious offenses may be viewed as misdemeanors or “light” crimes. Either way, it varies in communities. So comparing the crime rates of different communities can be misleading. The better way to determine if a city is getting safer or worse is to compare the stats from its previous years because every city has its own different culture, and make-up. Glassboro, for the most part, harbors Rowan University with about 15,401 students, with the remaining 4,610 as Glassboro residence. This leaves Glassboro with about 20,011 residents, with some Rowan students as residents. Rowan University is known for its wild weekend parties and “crazy” frat activities. According to student A from Rowan University, whose identity won’t be disclosed for privacy reasons, claims that he is “living” his best life. When asked about it, he said, “Bro there is always a party going on somewhere in Rowan.” Curious enough the question about cops shutting down parties and arresting students rose, and he responded, “Yeah, all the time. I got a citation for pissing outside the other time. To be honest, I was glad they did not get me for being drunk, and the weed that was in my pocket.” That statement intrigued me and got me to thinking, what if Rowan is part of the reason Glassboro has high crime rates.
According to Neighborhood Scout, areas harboring and neighboring Rowan University have the highest crime potential. It’s also marked as the most “dangerous” part of Glassboro. This may be due to the activities that go on at Rowan University. Just like every college, Rowan attracts outsiders into its environment and the presence of outsiders should be should be taken into account when calculating the crime rate of Glassboro. Well, for starters, we don’t know if these crimes were committed by Glassboro residents or “troublemakers” stopping by Glassboro, more specifically Rowan University for a party. If our law enforcement agencies separate crimes committed by Glassboro residents from non-residents, there will be a decrease in the numbers that are reported yearly by our police officers. From Rowan’s 2018 Annual Security and Fire Safety data, There were 1,053 instances of a crime at Rowan’s main campus alone in the year 2017. This stat is included in Glassboro’s crime report regardless of what the crime was.
“Crime Rate and Legal Definition.” U.S Legal, Retrieved 4 December 2018, https://definitions.uslegal.com/c/crime-rate/.
[Computational Formula]. State of California Department of Justice, https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/cjsc/prof10/formulas.pdf . Accessed 17 October 2018.
crime. (n.d.) A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier.. (1856). Retrieved 4 December 2018, from https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/crime
Neighborhood Scout, Accessed 17 October 2018, https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/nj/glassboro/crime .
2018 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, Rowan Campus Securtity. Retrieved 5 December 2018, https://sites.rowan.edu/publicsafety/_docs/annual_security_report.pdf