"Most serious urban violence is concentrated among less than 1 percent of a city’s population. So why are we still criminalizing whole areas?" Stephen Lurie asks in a Bloomberg article.
True, an entire area shouldn't be criminalized based on crime statistics. However, crime statistics are generally used to determine how safe or dangerous a neighborhood is.
Many Americans examine the crime index when scouting neighborhoods to settle in. They may look at demographics, crime statistics, school ratings etc. before buying a home.
Once they've found their dream neighborhood with low crime and good schools for their kids, the middle-class American whips out their checkbook and makes an offer.
They can sleep easy at night knowing that they're living in a neighborhood where things like theft, burglaries, rapes, murders and other forms of violence are simply unheard of. All that jazz is for the urban area they left behind. Right?
The Safe Neighborhood Fallacy
Safety is an illusion; it's a false perception that gives people confidence and peace of mind. But the reality is that nowhere is truly safe.
Sure, some mathematic probabilities and statistics play into the equation (you're more likely to get mugged in New York City than in low-population rural areas, for example), but the chance of being a victim of a crime is never zero.
The Safe Neighborhood Fallacy can be problematic for those who become hypnotized by its lies. Instead of remaining eternally vigilant, they will let their guard down, making themselves more vulnerable to crime.
"Nothing ever happens here, we can leave our doors unlocked." These are the famous words of almost every burglary victim in suburban America.
Don't ever let those words slip out of your mouth. Be smart, keep your doors locked and don't leave your valuables in your car. Buy a gun, learn how to use and properly store it. When imminent danger comes, you'll be ready to respond quickly.
We're not trying to fearmonger, we're just reminding people that safety is an illusion and you must always be vigilant. There's no need to live your life in constant fear and submission, but it's helpful to be smart and prepared.
Criminals are smart. Sure, you have your dumb criminals you hear about on the news, but there are smart ones out there who never get caught.
Criminals who live in densely populated or urban areas know about your quiet, low-crime community. The really smart ones are not planning on committing crimes in their own neighborhoods where they can be more easily discovered; they're coming for your town.
Do you know all those "quiet suburbs" that are 20, 30, 40, or 50 miles outside of the city? The criminals know about them, too. Just because they're living in an urban area, doesn't mean they'll localize their criminal activity.
In Maryland, my home state, there are dozens of low-crime, middle-class neighborhoods within a 50-mile radius of Baltimore, which is one of the most dangerous cities in the country based on per capita crime statistics.
The data shows that most of Maryland's crime happens in densely populated metropolitan areas like Glen Burnie and Baltimore. But where are the rest of the crimes happening?
That's right, in the quiet suburban towns that people think are safe. And who are the ones often committing these crimes? It could be someone living in your neighborhood, but the data shows that it's more likely to be the thieves and criminals who live miles away from you.
Just a few days ago there was a string of crimes in Bel Air, Maryland. (Bel Air is a low-crime, higher-income town in Harford County.) Many people's cars were broken into, a car and a motorcycle were stolen, and valuable items like laptops and other electronics were reported stolen.
The police were able to track the laptop, and they found the motorcycle as well. Where were they? They were found in Glen Burnie--a crime-infested city just outside of Baltimore--which is approximately 35 miles from where the items were stolen.
The victims of these crimes were caught with their pants down. We would never "victim blame", but it's easy to let down your guard when you're perceiving the area you live in as "safe".
It's not safe.
Criminals will indeed drive an hour to where you live to rob you, steal your car, break into your home or commit violence or assault against you. You're not safe and never will be. You must be ready at all times.
It's like Hunter S. Thompson said: "In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity."
It is our duty and responsibility to be vigilant and protect ourselves. The Supreme Court ruled that police are not responsible for protecting you or keeping you safe. It's our job to defend ourselves and those we care about in our communities.
There's no such thing as a safe neighborhood. Crime will always seep out and spill into areas that were once proclaimed "safe".
As the economy gets worse and our world continues to spiral into the abyss, it's imperative to be on high alert.
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