Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Politics: DC is Simultaneously the Safest and Most Dangerous City to Live In

Via DCist, I found the Incident Log Website. It links the police reports for major crimes from most major U.S. cities to Google Maps. Looking at the map of DC for the last two years, a very clear picture is painted...

1) If you live in Northwest DC, you live in one of the safest cities on the planet.

2) If you are a tourist and stick to the National Mall, Downtown, NW, and the other touristy areas, the likelihood of anything happening to you is quite low.

3) If you live anywhere else in DC, you live in one of the most dangerous cities on the planet.

There were exactly two crime related deaths in NW in the past two years, and one of them was accidental. Around the touristy areas, there were a couple robberies, one homicide, and a fatal accident. Over the river in Anacostia, and in the heavily Hispanic neighborhoods in NE that are plagued by gangs, there is a ton of crime.

I studied this a great deal in college, and when I was a social worker I observed it first hand. Crime occurs in clumps. A few neighborhoods, and even a few streets in a select neighborhoods, are very, very dangerous.

Others are relatively safe, even if they are in very poor parts of town. There are huge swathes of residential, working class neighborhoods where very little serious crime occurs. In upscale NW, it almost never occurs.

With rare exceptions, gangs, drug users, and other criminals don't take the Metro across town to terrorize the city. Statistically, most Washingtonians will live their entire life without being touched by crime. And oddly, this is obfuscated by the statistics themselves, which by definition are aggregates. So there is no reason to fear for your life every time you step outside your doorstep. Just be aware and be careful.

Also, I wanted to find a way to work in one of my favorite Mel Brooks quotes into this post:
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die." But I'm not really that good of a writer, so I'll have to put it as a non sequitur. Maybe the manhole covers will start exploding again in Georgetown, and I'll have a chance to use it again later. Meh.
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