Release of Recent Crime Statistics

Do Pennsylvanians Have a Reason to Celebrate after the Release of Recent Crime Statistics?

If the annual crime figures offered by the Uniform Crime Reporting System of Pennsylvania are considered, Bethlehem and Allentown emerge as the safest cities with conspicuous reduction in incident rates. Both metropolises had significantly lower crime rates when compared to the more populous boroughs of Pennsylvania, but this was brought down further in 2014 when only one homicide was reported in Bethlehem.

Yet, the data is being viewed with skepticism by many, including the Chairman of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Jim Lynch who says that such figures lack the nuanced view needed to gauge exactly what is going on at the street level. He says that crime reporting is akin to a census and the UCR is a blunt tool for reporting because it fails to accommodate acts such as domestic violence, cyber crimes and vandalism. He added that even if they are accounted for they are never isolated, which begs the question, how is a person to determine exactly how safe or unsafe the street environment is in a particular area?

In Lynch’s opinion, the 80 year old UCR system is in desperate need of a transformation that will allow law enforcement agencies to collect more detailed information on criminal acts. However, for now State College has earned the badge of the safest neighborhood in the state, followed by Altoona, Wilkis Barre and Bethlehem. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have the highest crime rates in keeping with their status of being the most populated and urbanized areas of the state.