Sunday, March 04, 2007


Springfield's Crime Rates

Well, it's 2007, and Springfield, MA, still appears to be alive and kicking. "Not so," insist many of the city's antagonists, who look to crime stats such as murder, rape, and robbery and see a city gone mad. But is their criticism really about Springfield having a lot of crime, or is their animosity more deeply rooted in their dislike of cities, period? It seems more likely the latter.

When comparing two cities, such as Springfield and Buffalo, NY, it is evident that Springfield's crime situation appears more average than outrageous. Buffalo, at 283,000, has nearly twice Springfield's population, but also had double our actual violent crime numbers for 2005. Their murder rate was over three times as high - 56 to our 18. So does that mean that Buffalo, too, is a city gone wild?

Hartford, CT, with a population of about 25,000 less than ours, compared rather well against us in 2005 - until the murder statistic is looked at. They whooped us on that number - and not in a good way, 25 to our 18. Should we bury Hartford, as well?

And these statistics were taken for 2005. Springfield's violent crime rate dropped in 2006. It's also likely, of course, that other comparable cities have also experienced drops in crime. But the point being, Springfield's crime rate is not as catastrophic as its bashers proclaim it to be. Their problem seems to be not that Springfield has a high crime rate for a city, but rather that it is a city.

High Street, Springfield, MA - 2006

The Springfield Police Department has the task of enforcing the city's laws. But oftentimes they also get a bad rap for not preventing more crimes - as if they should be anticipating a person's intent to rob, rape, or kill. Law enforcement can plan against, say, illegal gang or drug selling activities. But they can do nothing about a man who beats his girlfriend or a kid who puts a knife to your back to rob you - until after the fact, that is. (And having a catch-and-release court system has not helped matters, either.) Springfield reported a 16% decrease in violent crime for 2006. Now, us average folks don't get much from percentage statistics. We go by the actual numbers. Unfortunately, people tend to look at the numbers without comparing those figures to cities of like size (in population). Yes, there are unquestionably many more cities with less crime than Springfield. But Springfield is also a very poor city, with a very high percentage of families at or below the poverty level. So Springfield's crime problem is best addressed (in the long term) by elevating income levels via the bringing in of good paying jobs.

I get the feeling, however, that if and when better times do arrive, the bashers of Springfield are going to continue issuing their proclamations of doom and death.

It's so much easier to live the dream.

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Missing Persons in New England

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At 3:16 PM, Anonymous MTA said...

I agree with your city-bashing assessment. Some folks are never going to be happy, especially if they measure the pulse of the city by how many folks smile at them as they walk down the street. For some people, the anonymity of the city is its attraction. Not all of us are friendly.

On that note, I've never lived anywhere in Springfield that I wasn't friendly with my neighbors. It's hard for people who don't live here to understand that downtown might be all business, but the neighborhoods aren't much different than any neighborhood in any mid-sized city. I still go to the barber in my old neighborhood in Springfield, after 2+ years of being away from the city other than for work every day. We talk city politics and family stuff and he never minds that I always wait too long to see him. He hugs me as I leave and if my wife is with me he hugs her, too. He's like family. I guess stuff like that makes it hard for me to see the city as negatively as others do. Heck, even the old Vietnamese lady that used to come by once a week or so for our returnable bottles was cool.

I like Springfield, I don't care what anyone says.

At 12:14 AM, Blogger Bill Dusty said...

I think the Vietnamese community is one of the best things to happen to Springfield in the past thirty years. Yes, they are different. They bring their own culture. And it is a good culture. They are productive & industrious. They have opened up shops and restaurants, and they never - NEVER - complain about their role in the city or how hard it is being a minority. They work, they live, and they contribute. I wish more Springfield residents were like them.


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