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Riding through Homewood?

This topic contains 42 replies, has 18 voices, and was last updated by  Ahlir 8 mos, 2 weeks.

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Lee

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Jul 30 2013 at 4:07pm #

I would like to ride to Saltsburg and back from Squirrel Hill. That would take me from forbes and braddock to homewood where I’d like to turn right on Bennett and head out of town to the east on route 380 /Frankstown Road.

It’s a scenic rolling ride once you get out of town, but i’m not sure if it’s wise to ride a bike through Homewood alone (and probably really really tired on the way back) even in broad daylight.

Any of you guys ride that neighborhood? Some old lady was robbed in her own house on Bennett earlier this month by a knife wielding stranger at 7am, so I don’t think I’m making things up that it’s a rough place.


Pierce

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Jul 30 2013 at 4:36pm #

When I first moved to Braddock many people told me I was going to get killed/robbed/jumped/mugged etc, etc, etc and also mentioned an old lady getting tied up and robbed

It’s been one of the friendliest neighborhoods I’ve lived in

I go through Homewood during the day on Saturday and again around 12am or later. I also usually go through there Thursday night.

I also took a class at the CCAC out there and it was one of the friendliest campuses I’ve been to. Never had any problems during the semester. I also used to go that way when I worked at the CCAC Boyce campus for a semester or two and never had any problems then.

Try googling any neighborhood and put in “neighborhood x pittsburgh robbery” and I bet they all come up with hits

Squirrel hill for example:

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/06/18/police-seek-2-suspects-in-squirrel-hills-street-robbery/

Is squirrel hill a rough neighborhood?

Shadyside:

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/police-caution-shadyside-residents-of-recent-armed-robberies-218897/

Is shadyside a rough neighborhood?

Mt Lebanon:

http://www.wtae.com/news/local/allegheny/Suspect-arrested-in-Mt-Lebanon-ATM-customer-robberies-from-2010/-/10927008/19144040/-/eddjgnz/-/index.html

Is Mt Lebanon a rough neighborhood?

It’s seems kind of like a confirmation bias to look at one woman getting robbed to say “Ah yes, this is a rough neighborhood.”


Ohiojeff

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Jul 30 2013 at 4:45pm #

Try Lincoln Ave as a way out of town. Nice climb. You can start from Frankstown near ELB. I only ever did it on weekend mornings, but it was always fine.


gg

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Jul 30 2013 at 4:55pm #

Homewood isn’t a good area. Sure I have ridden through there, but if there is a more relaxed way take it. Although sort of rare, there is some big time crap going on in Homewood. Rocks come to mind. It is sort of luck of the draw in that area, but I used to ride the Larimer all the time and think nothing of it. I am getting on in years, so I guess I am just being a bit more…. well cautious. You would probably be fine, but why be stressed?


jonawebb

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Jul 30 2013 at 6:08pm #

I’m not familiar with Homewood, but I ride through Wilkinsburg every day, which has similar issues. I did get punched once, and another time three guys were walking down the street and one stuck out his leg — could have been an unlucky mess had I not dodged. In general I’d say you’re pretty safe on a bike, but a lot depends on luck. On the other hand, if I had to choose between a side street in Homewood and Penn Ave I would choose the side street. You’re at much more risk from cars than any pedestrian.
So I’d be cautious, that’s all. Try to be aware of your surroundings, people you’re coming up on. You have a lot of options for avoiding trouble from pedestrians on a bike; take them.
I agree with @Pierce about neighborhoods, btw. Pittsburgh is full of neighborhoods that people who don’t live there think are dangerous. Ask someone from Carrick about South Oakland, or vice versa. And I see a lot more kids playing on the street in Wilkinsburg than Squirrel Hill; I think that makes it safer. But I’d be real cautious around groups of teenage males, especially in a poor neighborhood.


Pierce

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Jul 30 2013 at 6:10pm #

Eh, I think it’s all perspective

It’s kind of funny because when I first moved to the region (when I was 17, fresh out of high school) there was an abandoned home in my town (Ambridge) and I had never seen an abandoned home that was not immediately torn down where I grew up

To me, that was an indicator that it was a rough town. Now I live next to two abandoned houses and they’re strewn all throughout Braddock


Ahlir

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Jul 30 2013 at 8:11pm #

This turned out really long… I hate long posts. So, Executive Summary:
Homewood feels about as (un)safe as Oakland on a Saturday night.

Braddock to Bennett on to Frankstown strikes me as more or less a main drag, with a fair amount of traffic most times of the day. The bit from the rail underpass to Bennett might feel a bit creepy (abandoned buildings and such); on the other hand it’s pretty deserted.

Most of the areas that seem derelict are in the low sections; the higher up the hills the more settled it seems. But I’m mostly going through there in the daytime however.

Another alternative is to go through the Wilkinsburg business district and continue up Wood to where it intersects with Bennett. It’s a nice-ish residential street (well, for that part of town) and there’s regular traffic.

Lincoln is actually a very nice ride and has lots of traffic. The neighborhoods get (relatively) nice pretty early on. Get up to Verona Blvd and turn right, eventually you’ll get to Frankstown. That whole area is pretty high; from some spots you get to look down on Stanton Heights.

Larimer is ok coming up from East Liberty; be sure to turn right on Deasy just after the bridge and merge onto Lincoln. If you continue you end up in a maze of dead-end streets and some very steep hills.

If you go up N. Homewood you’ll hit the (informal) Homewood town square at Frankstown. Lots of loitering men hanging about; I expect some might have Skittles in their possession, but I’ve never stopped to check. They ignore you. I’ve never gone east or north of that intersection (the streets don’t really go anywhere, though east eventually gets you to Frankstown).

(Personal) notes:
– This summer Homestead is one of the neighborhoods I’ve been exploring. It’s pretty cool, actually. Lots of imposing buildings all over the place (many sadly in disrepair).
– Many years ago I did a project with the Pittsburgh Police (out of what I think was Station 5? on Penn Circle). As part of getting into it I got to ride a patrol (in the back seat, wearing a big flack jacket). Along the way we went up Formosa Way in Homewood. I was told that this was the “most dangerous” street in the city. Nothing happened (well, one of the residents, sitting on his stoop, jeered at us).
– I live in Squirrel Hill. Some years ago I was in a conversation with a person from the suburbs. “Oh my God!” they said, “aren’t you afraid of the drive by shootings?” Oy. [yes, subsequently we really did have one; the Black Sheep Festival featured a play about it.]


RustyRed

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Jul 30 2013 at 10:36pm #

Pierce wrote:

Is squirrel hill a rough neighborhood?

Is shadyside a rough neighborhood?

Is Mt Lebanon a rough neighborhood?

Wanders off topic…

I’ve lived in a variety of several neighborhoods since I moved to Pittsburgh in 1987:
Morningside, Beechview, Mt Lebanon, Castle Shannon, Squirrel Hill and Upper Saint Clair.
We’ve had more violent crimes committed within 2 blocks of us (First-degree murder, manslaughter) in Upper Saint Clair than any of the other places I’ve lived.

Kinda funny in a non-ha-ha way.

…and these goddamned Upper Saint Clair kids keep whacking our mailbox in the middle of the night. Jagoffs! Do you know how much it costs to replace a mailbox!?!


Lee

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Jul 31 2013 at 12:14am #

thanks for the advice all. i’ll give that ride a try sometime this summer. although i don’t think my caution was due to confirmation bias, it seems like a person can at least ride through the streets without a huge chance of being bothered.

Lastly, here are some Pittsburgh crime statistics broken down by neighborhood from the bureau of police for the curious. http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/police/files/annual_reports/10_Police_Annual_Report.pdf


Marko82

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Jul 31 2013 at 8:05am #

^the problem with crime statistics is that they don’t really tell the whole story. If one drug dealer robs another drug dealer – well who cares. Likewise, if two neighbors have a long running feud and one of them vandalizes the others car – again, who cares. The answer to your Homewood question centers on how many crimes are committed between non-known people. Stranger-danger if you will. Currently I believe that the South Side probably leads in this category, but that’s only a guess based on unreliable news reports. I think it probably also leads in the number of Cops shooting innocent bystanders too.


Lee

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Jul 31 2013 at 8:52am #

I would guess that most of the murders (other than those caught in the cross-fire) were between known parties.


steevo

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Jul 31 2013 at 9:05am #

Second for Lincoln ave. Classic way east. Recently repaved on the
climb up to the cemetery.

Also, I had no idea that homewood was so safe until reading this
thread! Those “stop shooting we love you” signs all over the
neighborhood must have worked!!!


jonawebb

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Jul 31 2013 at 9:08am #

The issue I have with poor neighborhoods is not getting caught in the cross-fire but in standing out as a rich outsider. I’m pretty sure me in my spandex is one of the odder things folks see every day in Wilkinsburg. It’s the sort of thing that can arouse indignation, and things have happened a couple of times, as I said. I don’t stand out at all in Squirrel Hill or Shadyside. So it’s a reason for caution.


Lee

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Jul 31 2013 at 10:03am #

Steevo. I figured people must do this kind of ride regularly. I’ll check that route out.

Jon. That makes total sense.


StuInMcCandless

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Jul 31 2013 at 2:16pm #

I have never had a problem walking, waiting for a bus, riding a bus, or riding a bicycle, in any of those neighborhoods. Not looking flashy is a big part of it. Just being in motion is a big part of it.

+1 on that most of the crime is between parties known to one another. The jump-out-from-behind-a-tree-and-do-nasty-stuff-to-you stories are, to a great extent, precisely that, stories. Not to say that it doesn’t ever happen, but it doesn’t happen much, and happens even less if you’re zipping along pretty good on a bike.


Pierce

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Jul 31 2013 at 2:22pm #

“Those “stop shooting we love you” signs all over the
neighborhood must have worked!!!”

Yeah, the rash of cyclists getting shot in Homewood is pretty crazy…

Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t the two cyclists that got killed on Penn Ave from that area and also riding late at night/early morning? Were you guys constantly looking over your shoulder while riding to their ghost bike(s)?

People act like jackasses towards cyclists all over the city. When somebody clips us or yells at us or throws something at us, we’re not like “Geeze! They must be targeting me because I’m a rich outsider and they’re in a poor neighborhood!”


buffalo buffalo

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Jul 31 2013 at 2:29pm #

I’ve biked, run, and driven through Homewood, East liberty, Larimer, Manchester, Hazelwood, and Homestead, among the myriad of areas known as ‘bad neighborhoods’ in the city. The only time I’ve ever had a problem from a non-driver was on a hash run through Wilkinsburg, where some group of preteens thought it’d be funny to throw (small) rocks at us.


jonawebb

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Jul 31 2013 at 3:49pm #

@Pierce, I see teenage males as the enforcers of orthodoxy everywhere. If I’m riding in the country, and get mocked for not having a car, it’s always a group of teenage males. The same applies when I’m wearing spandex and riding a bike in a poor neighborhood, or, I presume, if I was a young African-American man walking through a wealthy suburban neighborhood. Teenage males pick up on difference and pick on anyone who stands out. So I’m cautious around them, and take into account how I think I must look to them. And my experience suggests I’m right to be cautious.
That said, you are right, motorists are more of a danger to cyclists than pedestrians everywhere. A motorist doesn’t have to bear you any ill-will to hurt or kill you; they just have to be inattentive.


orionz06

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Jul 31 2013 at 6:26pm #

StuInMcCandless wrote: Not looking flashy is a big part of it. Just being in motion is a big part of it.

Moving faster than a crawl is one good way to deselect yourself. Another is just to appear confident and alert. Be aware of everything around you, people who may have keyed into you, and anticipate the worst from those near you and that’s that.


paulheckbert

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Jul 31 2013 at 8:27pm #

In the “objects thrown at you?” thread http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/objects-thrown-at-you/ people mentioned having objects thrown at them while biking in these Pittsburgh locations:
Black St in Morningside
Bloomfield Bridge
Ellsworth, Shadyside
near Obama School (former Peabody), East Liberty
East Liberty Blvd (2 times)
Forbes & Dallas, Squirrel Hill
2nd Ave in Hazelwood
Glenwood Bridge (2 times)


StuInMcCandless

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Aug 1 2013 at 10:10am #

For that matter, a bunch of youths threw some frozen potatoes at me while I was driving through Youngwood one day when I was still living in New Stanton, actually cracking the fiberglass fender.

You are not immune to teen stupidity, no matter who you are, where you are, or what you’re traveling on.

Please separate your racism from your justifiable wariness of any gang of teens.


jonawebb

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Aug 1 2013 at 11:32am #

StuInMcCandless wrote:Please separate your racism from your justifiable wariness of any gang of teens.

I don’t see any evidence that anyone here is being racist. And it’s not polite to say people are, when they haven’t been.


Drewbacca

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Aug 1 2013 at 12:47pm #

Sounds to me like Stu was being general… not calling anyone this or that. It’s a valid point to bring up, that we are just as likely to be harassed by a gang of middle-class white kids. In fact, I’ve been harassed a countless number of times; I’ve been hit by rocks on more than one occasion, thrown by a middle-class white kid.

I think the comment was fair. I don’t think it was directed at any one in particular. There is definitely a racial/class undertone to this type of thread… that can’t be avoided. Better to focus on class than race, but still, the problem seems to be the age bracket more than either of the above. I think there is a common assumption that a poor neighborhood will have less adult supervision. On the other hand, I don’t really think that a poor neighborhood will experience significantly more crime. Whatever, there’s data out there on this stuff but it’s best left to a different conversation.

That said, it’s more likely to happen in some neighborhoods… even if it could happen anywhere. Be smart, and avoid a large gathering of teens/kids regardless of the neighborhood.


jonawebb

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Aug 1 2013 at 2:09pm #

It’s such a loaded word, and people have been so careful here to avoid speaking in racist terms about an issue that, indeed, could easily go in that direction. I wish Stu hadn’t introduced the term when people are trying to hard to avoid it. We should be able to talk about the issues discussed here without being accused of being racist, even by implication.


Pierce

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Aug 1 2013 at 2:31pm #

Call it what you want, but it seems like we’re engaging in classist/racist stereotyping based on irrelevant and minimal evidence

There’s the notion that we cannot grow up in this society without being a little racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, etc, but we can investigate when we might be engaging in racist, sexist, etc behavior

Do we worry about passing groups of teens in Squirrel Hill? Or in Etna?

Steevo mentioned shootings. How many shooters have there been in the last year? 20, 30? That seems like a high guess to me. And there are some 80k+ black people in the city of Pittsburgh alone. At thirty people, that’s 0.000375% of the population. Or one out of every 2,666 people.

And yet we’re leery of teenagers in Homewood because of shootings Steevo? If we act all weird like the black kids we cycle by are going to shoot us, I imagine they can pick up on that. I don’t think that’s doing us any favors.

I just want to give teenagers the benefit of the doubt in assuming they’re not all violent monsters\criminals, especially if they’re already prone to be racially profiled by the police, which, looking at two or three years of stop and frisk numbers, they are.


StuInMcCandless

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Aug 1 2013 at 2:34pm #

To be clear, I was indeed pushing it a little bit. Without naming names, if you think Homewood or Larimer or any other neighborhood is bad because of some general assumption about the sort of people who form the majority population there, then yes, that was directed at you.

I just make the tacit assumption that everyone is going to be nice, pleasant, honest, etc., no matter where I am, and conduct myself accordingly. People sense that, and conduct themselves accordingly.


jonawebb

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Aug 1 2013 at 2:50pm #

@Pierce I agree that worrying about getting shot in say Homewood has racist undertones. But I would be a little leery of passing a group of teenage males even in Squirrel Hill. Someone might be inclined to show off, stick out a leg, shove somebody in my path. And I would definitely be careful around a group of teenage males in a car in any neighborhood.
@Stu, yeah, I agree with you when you get a chance to know people; but when you’re riding early in the morning or at night (which was the OP’s issue), and come up on a group of teenage males, there’s not a lot of time for anybody to sense anything, and especially when you stand out because you look different, it’s reasonable to be cautious.


WillB

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Aug 1 2013 at 3:18pm #

Pierce and Stu, Homewood has 3% of the city’s population and 20% of its homicides. There might be a lot of people who think it’s dangerous because black people live there, but there’s also the fact that it actually has more crime than other parts of the city. I think there’s a perfectly reasonable discussion to be had about whether 10 murders and 67 robberies makes a place so dangerous that you want to avoid it, but saying that Homewood isn’t less safe than other neighborhoods just isn’t supported by the data.


StuInMcCandless

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Aug 1 2013 at 3:45pm #

Inside. Between mutually known people. Over private matters. Not gunning people down in the street, unless caught in crossfire, which is hardly limited to there. (Ross Park Mall, Downtown, Sheraden at 11 on a Friday morning, which happened to a friend of mine waiting for a bus, shot by law enforcement.) That’s not easily shown in the crime stats you quote.

No, I’m holding my ground here. You are far more likely to get hit by a car in Homewood than shot in Homewood, and same goes for everyplace else.

And I think that’s the point of the thread.


helen s

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Aug 1 2013 at 3:55pm #

“I just make the tacit assumption that everyone is going to be nice, pleasant, honest, etc., no matter where I am, and conduct myself accordingly. People sense that, and conduct themselves accordingly.”
Well put Stu- I try to do the same, and although not totally surprised when someone is not, I must say I am a bit disappointed and then try to quietly extract myself from that person’s vicinity.


jonawebb

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Aug 1 2013 at 3:55pm #

StuInMcCandless wrote:You are far more likely to get hit by a car in Homewood than shot in Homewood, and same goes for everyplace else.

I agree with this statement. But I don’t think that’s the issue the OP was worried about. And it wasn’t the one I was discussing.


WillB

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Aug 1 2013 at 6:09pm #

StuInMcCandless wrote: Not gunning people down in the street

A quick google search indicates otherwise.

http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/4370219-74/shooting-homewood-investigating#axzz2alFPSRze

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/08/01/1-injured-in-homewood-shooting-3/

http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/paramedics-rush-scene-homewood-shooting/nYsG6/

You’re right that in Homewood you’re more likely to get hit by a car than shot, but there are still people getting shot, and I don’t begrudge people who are a little worried about that. Let’s stop pretending that it’s just totally safe like any other neighborhood, and insinuating that anyone who thinks otherwise is a racist.


Pierce

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Aug 1 2013 at 6:16pm #

Stu’s point was that they weren’t random acts of violence, those articles don’t say one way or another


jonawebb

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Aug 1 2013 at 7:38pm #

If you think a concern about crime in a high-crime neighborhood (which also happens to be predominately African-American) is really a racist discussion about getting gunned down in the street, I’m thinking “he who smelt it dealt it”.
Ahlir ++
I met a guy there once, when I was setting a tag last year, who was washing his bike in the street. He told me he had like 17 bikes. So you will find some bikers there too.


Ahlir

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Aug 1 2013 at 8:06pm #

I would suggest that everyone in this discussion, this weekend, get on their bike and take a ride through Homewood. Get to know the place. Marvel at the fact that people do everyday things. Note that many (if not most) of the houses have well kept lawns, some with pretty flower beds. Yes, people do things you don’t often see in Squirrel Hill or Shadyside (like work on their cars in the street), but so what? It’s a city. It’s diverse. Beating up on passer-by’s isn’t really anybody’s consuming passion.
Though I do agree that you should keep an eye out for groups of teenagers. Socialization is a long process that can last into the 20s and 30s. For some people, even longer.


reddan

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Aug 1 2013 at 9:26pm #

In the interests of making reasoned risk assessments (not limited to Homewood, BTW), are there any good sources for crime statistics at the Pittsburgh neighborhood level? Ideally, where one can actually look at the data, not just infographics or heat maps superimposed on the city neighborhoods?

Frankly, regional homicide rates don’t really bug me, when it comes to safety considerations; I’d be more concerned about the relative and absolute rates of simple assault, theft, robbery, muggings, &tc. Our homicide rates are low enough that worrying about getting shot and killed by a stranger ANYWHERE in the city seems akin to worrying about being attacked by a rabid raccoon; it’s neither impossible nor unheard of, but happens so seldom that it’s not worth undue concern or additional precautions.


Mick

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Aug 1 2013 at 10:31pm #

This document talks about crime by neighborhood starting on page 58. (57 pages of singing praises of the fine, corrupt department big wigs)

http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/police/files/annual_reports/10_Police_Annual_Report.pdf

It doesn’t seem to normalize the data – like crimes /100 people or crimes per square mile, but it gives clues.

Surprised at how much crime there is in Bloomfield.


reddan

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Aug 2 2013 at 6:12am #

Thanks for the link, Mick.


Pierce

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Aug 2 2013 at 12:48pm #

This is something I don’t have proof of, but even if you look at crimes on a neighborhood breakdown, depending on what you’re looking at, some neighborhoods could be more heavily targeted, which results in more crimes being booked

I.E. if I go to a neighborhood, pick up five guys, and one of them has a weapon, but I don’t go to another neighborhood, the other neighborhood will look better because there’s no enforcement

Not necessarily relevant for things like shootings, but it is for lesser crimes


reddan

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Aug 2 2013 at 1:31pm #

I.E. if I go to a neighborhood, pick up five guys, and one of them has a weapon, but I don’t go to another neighborhood, the other neighborhood will look better because there’s no enforcement
Not necessarily relevant for things like shootings, but it is for lesser crimes

Valid point as regards general neighborhood crime assessment.

However, if one is concerned with personal safety, you need to look at the statistics for crimes that are likely to affect you. As a cyclist, I’m really not concerned with the stats for possession or solicitation, which certainly would be skewed by choices in regional enforcement. I want to know about assaults, thefts, and suchlike, the reporting of which is not based on inherently biased selection mechanisms like stop-n-frisk.

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