ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York leaders announced violent crimes have dropped in the first half of this year, compared to last year. Despite the data that shows reductions, many in the community said they do not feel safer.
The new numbers were released Thursday morning by the Division of Criminal Justice Services. The number of murders outside New York City is down 27 percent. Reports of rape are down 16 percent, while robbery and aggravated assault cases have also gone down.
Even though the numbers indicate that crime rates are improving, a recent poll shows a majority of people feel that crime has worsened.
An October poll conducted by the Siena Research Institute found 59 percent of voters said crime has gotten worse over the last year. 28 percent feel it’s stayed about the same, while only nine percent think crime has gotten better. NEWS10 talked to advocates to ask why they think there’s a disconnect.
Eva Bass is a social justice advocate and the executive director of AVillage Inc. She works on the grassroots level to reduce crime. Bass explained why she thinks the data doesn’t match how people feel.
“I want to say I know that our city and law-enforcement want to create this perception of Albany being a great place to live and the crime, you know, going down but the reality is that our community is at a state of emergency,” said Bass.
She said there’s a need for more unity and cohesiveness among nonprofit organizations and local and state government agencies to properly address crime.
“Our community is not safe. Our community is not properly connected to the resources that they need. The community has a high level of trauma,” said Bass.
She said it’s not only current-day trauma but generational trauma that has affected marginalized communities.
“And it needs to be addressed with intention and proper support,” said Bass.
She said connecting people to resources is difficult when people are fighting for their lives, barely managing to keep their heads above water.
That’s where they come in. AVillage Inc. was one of several organizations that received a $500,000 portion of the $2 million in anti-violence funds allocated to Project RISE (which stands for Respond, Invest, Sustain, and Empower).
However, Bass feels more resources are needed so they have the capacity to build a sustainable model that meets people where they are but noted the current crime problem has historical roots.
“There’s no way to address crime until we address these systems that are created to oppress people,” said Bass.
A spokesperson for the city of Albany said Bass raises a valid point, adding in a statement that read in part: “While crime is down, we sometimes hear that people feel unsafe when approached by those panhandling or suffering from mental illness and substance abuse.”
The spokesperson added the city is hiring social workers who will be posted at police stations and will be providing additional funds to organizations.