Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rensselaer, NY Crime Statistics

A few comments on other blogs have painted Rensselaer as being just as crime-ridden as Troy or Albany. I've been combing the news sites for 10 months now, and have seen little evidence to support this urban legend. Recently I noticed some Google search referrals for "Rensselaer crime statistics", so I finally dug into the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Statistics.

So, does Rensselaer really have less crime than Troy, or do we just get less attention from the newspapers? Turns out we have far fewer reported crimes. [Click charts to enlarge]

But Troy is a larger city - so how do we stack up after you compensate for population? I had to use census data from 2000 with crime statistics from 2008, but here are the Index Crimes divided by the Population for each area, giving approximate crime rates.

Not surprisingly, the City of Rensselaer has a higher crime rate than our suburban neighbors. However, we have a significantly lower crime rate than Troy or Albany, so I consider this myth busted. (But I still plan to keep my doors locked and not leave valuables in the car.)

[You can look at the 2004-2008 Index Crimes reported in Rensselaer County to see the original data (here's Albany County). "Index Crimes" are chosen by the FBI as a uniform way to monitor crime trends - see Glossary of crimes. For population figures, I used the 2000 Federal Census for Rensselaer, East Greenbush, North Greenbush, Troy, and Albany. NYS Law Enforcement Personnel in 2007 is interesting too.]

UPDATE: For perspective, the recent Forbes article, "Where To Live Cheaply", ranks the Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area as 6th in "America's Best Cheap Cities", which ranks cities based on average salary, unemployment, crime rate, etc. According to Forbes, the Albany MSA ranked 26th in the nation on crime rate (they used FBI violent crime stats). The FBI has a disclaimer to address this: Caution Against Ranking - Variables Affecting Crime.

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