It’s official. According to an analysis of FBI data by the Associated Press, New York is the safest big city in the United States, with roughly one crime reported for every 37 residents per year.
Not that this is surprising news. The crime rate has been on the decline for more than a decade; it was at least ten years ago that a cab driver dropping this reporter off at the Port Authority, when told I was heading to Washington, D.C. remarked, “You’re crazy—that place is dangerous!” The days of crime-ridden streets and sprayed-paint-covered subway cars seem like the distant past.
That said, New York City is still a massive urban center, with millions of people crammed into a not-very-big space. While it’s well and good to have our big city touted as the safest in the land, one reported crime per 37 residents means that, if your building has 37 units, statistically, at least one of those residents has been the victim of a crime in the last year. Actually, it’s more than that, as 37 units would probably house more than 37 residents, and the “one-in-37” figure only takes reported crimes into account. Examined that way, the “safest” designation doesn’t seem quite so impressive.
Furthermore, the FBI survey doesn’t account for the threat of a terrorist attack. San Jose, California, which also placed on the “safe” list, is not exactly wall-to-wall with potential targets. As if to reinforce the point, not three weeks after the AP released its “Safe Cities” list, a small airplane crashed into an apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Thankfully, this was not a terrorist attack, but it didn’t make anyone feel more secure.
From more serious, possibly dangerous situations like break-ins, robberies or worse, to less alarming but no less felonious incidents involving vandalism, safety and crime prevention are major concerns for any building, regardless of borough or neighborhood.