Buffalo: The Nation's 4th Most Dangerous City
More money, more problems
There's no denying Buffalo's rebirth. The city is amidst an impressive transformation as it sheds its rust belt image and welcomes a brighter future. A future that embraces an ever-expanding medical complex and makes way for solar panel manufacturers that promise to bring thousands of jobs to the region.
It's also encouraging to be named the least riskiest real estate market in the past 35 years, as Forbes Magazine has recently declared. This stability is something to be proud of, especially considering the hardship many families have found themselves in while they witnessed their property value plummet during the real estate bubble burst that impacted many of the nation's top markets.
However, though it seems the governor's billion-dollar commitment to the region is beginning to take root, all the money in the world will do little to stop the city's growing crime problem.
As construction cranes continue to pop up all over town, a wave of sexual assaults has washed over the city. Further, the city's poverty and unemployment rate continues to increase, while high school graduation rates hovering slightly above 50% are worrisome to say the least.
All the while a recent analysis has ranked Buffalo high atop the crime list.
Police Commissioner In Denial
If you read between the headlines of a recent analysis conducted by The Buffalo News about crime statistics in the Queen City, you'll uncover some disturbing facts.
For starters, Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda has been deliberately under-reporting crime statistics to the FBI in order to get a more favorable ranking in the agency's annual "Most Violent Cities" ranking.
To the credit of police officials, they have not dodged the fact that for at least the last eight to nine years, the department has underreported its clearance rates to the FBI because of a misunderstanding over how to calculate when a crime is cleared, especially for homicides.
Commissioner Daniel Derenda admitted: “We were doing it wrong. We are going to get the data corrected.” Admitting a mistake is important, although it raises questions about who got it wrong and whether any other calculations are being done incorrectly.
Secondly, it was revealed that Buffalo is now ranked as the nation's 4th most violent mid-size city.
The News analysis found that Buffalo has the fourth-highest violent crime rate among cities of similar size throughout the country.
... Looking at the numbers in another way shows that crime is dropping, but not as fast as the national figures. As The News analysis showed, Buffalo’s decline occurred while the city’s population dropped by 8 percent and the nation’s population increased by 6 percent.
That means that on a per capita basis, Buffalo’s decline in crime is behind the national rate, and although the city is safer than it was a decade ago, it remains one of the most violent midsize cities with populations between 200,000 and 325,000, according to The News analysis.
It's all about perspective
In order for the city to achieve its true potential, we must deal with the realities that encompass its entire populace, not just that of a few. Ignoring them or fudging with statistics will do little to prevent the next shooting.
While we must continue to push forward with waterfront development, we must also continue to find solutions to solve the city's growing crime problem. Lest we find ourselves climbing to the #1 spot on the wrong list.