Schenectady’s almost in the top 10…and that’s not a good thing

While traveling in Brazil for the World Cup, I was seriously concerned about being robed, especially given all the bad press on crime in Brazil and repeated statements from Brazilians I know to stick to the touristy areas.

After one particularly nerve wracking drive outside of Rio, I inquired with the hotel if the drive at night along rural, poorly lit roads was of significant concern. His response, I thought, was particularly illustrative:

This is Brazil. Sometimes you walk in the jungle and you see lots of birds. Other times, you don’t see any. I drive that route with a heavy foot.

When I returned, I came across this ranking by Movoto Real Estate of the most dangerous small cities in America. Schenectady was number 11.

The rankings are of cities with populations between 50,000 and 75,000 people with available crime data from the FBI’s 2012 Crime Report.

While I definitely felt concerned in Brazil, I don’t in Schenectady, and unfortunately, these types of rankings serve to perpetuate a preexisting idea of the city. There are also some legitimate concerns over the validity of the statistics, as noted in this response from another city on the list.

For example, a city must report the data to the FBI to be included in the ranking, which will affect the results based on which cities submit the data. Furthermore, similar analysis by the same firm has produced results which are counter intuitive (Ithaca is the most exciting place in NY?) Skepticism should be applied to the crime rankings as not all residents or visitors have an equal chance of being victims, which raises the question as to whether the results should be truly meaningful to a visitor or potential homeowner.

Despite the criticism of the ranking, crime is certainly a concern, and I hope the police department’s effort to use more data to be more efficient will pay off. At least Schenectady is #2 for access to ice cream that can be bought concurrently with a buttered roll!


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