Connecticut is home to four of the most dangerous cities in the United States.
A recent study published by NeighborhoodScout – which takes into account crime data from the FBI, Justice Department, and local law enforcement – named Bridgeport, New London, Hartford and New Haven four of the United States’ most dangerous cities on a list of 100.
New Haven is the most dangerous of the four, ranked 36th out of 100. Residents have a one in 79 chance of falling victim to violent crime in New Haven. During the past year, New Haven had a total of 1,650 violent crimes – including rape, murder, aggravated assault and robbery.
Hartford was ranked 45th, New London 56th and Bridgeport was 88th.
In Hartford there were 1,495 violent crimes over the past year. Bridgeport had 1,431 violent crimes reported. New London had more property crimes than violent crimes.
Connecticut holds the dubious claim of being one of only nine states to sport four or more cities on NeighborhoodScout’s dangerous cities list. The other states are Florida, New York, Ohio, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, and Michigan, all of which are exponentially larger than Connecticut in terms of physical size, and all of which are in the top fourteen out of fifty states in terms of population.
To specify, Massachusetts, the 14th-largest population in the United States, and with the least amount of habitants out of the aforementioned nine states, has a total population of 6,547,629. Connecticut’s population is 3,574,097.
This is not to say that smaller states can’t have a great deal of crime. It is to say that despite Connecticut’s lesser size, it has as many cities on the top 100 most dangerous cities list as other, larger states with a greater amount of cities to choose from.
To this effect the report stated: “It looks like high violent crime rates are less about city size than they are about economic issues in many communities, that drive away the educated and affluent as they pursue employment elsewhere, and draw in – or retain – the less well-off and less mobile.”
Sameir Rankins, a 5th semester accounting major and a native of New Haven, touched on this phenomenon.
“I’ve lived in New Haven my entire life and I am not surprised that [it] is one of the country’s most dangerous cities,” Rankins said. “As a resident of New Haven…there are precautionary measures that I take just as I would in any other city. I didn’t realize how bad it was to the outside population until I left for college. I noticed that there is a different perspective on New Haven once you leave. Once I came to UConn, I began to be caught by surprise by some of the news articles I would read about how dangerous New Haven is, as opposed to reading the same article back home and not being surprised. If I wasn’t from New Haven, I would definitely see [it] as a place to avoid.”
These results are all the more noticeable when considering Connecticut is the third-wealthiest state in the union. This fact is actually party to the high crime rate, as income inequality plagues the state. An NPR article noted the unfortunate dichotomy between grisly Bridgeport and prosperous Greenwich.
“[Greenwich is] Swimming in the wealth extracted from Wall Street, the hedge fund and private equity groups nestled in the downtown business districts anchor communities centered around lavish country clubs, colonial mansions and public schools that send dozens of children to the Ivy League each year.
“All except Bridgeport, that is. To walk down Bridgeport's deserted Main Street, with its boarded up stores and hard-luck hotels, and then stroll down Greenwich Avenue later that day, is to experience different planets.”
Studies show that Connecticut is one of the most unequal economically– and segregated – states in the U.S. While there are twice as many affluent areas in Connecticut than poor areas, they both tend to extremes, and, it’s worth noting, are racially segregated. As the NeighborhoodScout study pointed out, the ties between economy and violent crime are strong.
Jenadra Harvey, a 5th semester youth development and health sciences major, grew up in Bridgeport and went to high school in New Haven. She offered a personal perspective on the findings.
“It (the study’s findings) doesn’t surprise me that much, but I truthfully wish it did,” Harvey said. “Growing up around those numbers has made it seem like violence is the norm and I, as well as the people around me, have become so immune to it that it bothers us after the death of a close friend or relative, but then we pick our lives back up and move on. I don’t feel like I’ve felt at risk living in either city, but that could simply be because I stayed away from the drama and the crowds. With drama and crowds comes violence. So learning at a young age to stay away from that did a lot for me.”
Po Murray, Chairman of the Newtown Action Alliance and Newtown Foundation, said that socio-economic factors contribute most to violence in cities.
“Poverty and unemployment leads to increased high school dropout rates, drug use, youth crime, increased availability of guns, etc.,” Murray wrote in an email.
Murray also spoke to the segregation between rich and poor, as well as between whites and minorities. As for solutions, Murray had a few ideas.
“After the Sandy Hook tragedy, a bipartisan bill was passed in CT to strengthen the gun safety laws. We must strengthen the federal background check bill and pass gun trafficking laws that will help to keep guns away from dangerous people,” Murray said.
Murray also mentioned increasing the high school graduation rate and providing opportunities for both higher education and jobs.
Sten Spinella is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.