- By Christian Wade | The Center Square contributor
- July 13th, 2023
(The Center Square) — More than half of New Yorkers are concerned they could become a victim of crime, according to a new poll, which suggests that public safety continues to be a top issue in the state — and not just in New York City.
The Siena College poll, released on Wednesday, found a combined 61% of Empire Staters were either “very” or “somewhat concerned” that they’ll be the next victim of a crime.
Nearly one in 10 New Yorkers has been physically assaulted over the past year; similarly, the pollsters found while 9% have been the victim of a burglary. About 40% said they had witnessed violent or threatening behavior among others in a public setting, according to the poll.
“Crime isn’t just something that happens to others far away according to New Yorkers,” Siena College Research Institute Director Don Levy says in the report.
Levy said 40% of those who responded to the poll said they have “never been this worried about their safety as they are today.” In contrast, a majority, 58%, say that they are no more worried about being the victim of a crime today than they have been in the past, he said.
“But more worrisome is that a majority of New Yorkers say that they are concerned about their or their family’s safety when thinking about being in public places, the places we all go, including schools, stores or religious institutions,” Levy said. “Crime and the threat of crime is on the minds of many of us as we simply go through our everyday lives.”
New Yorkers are taking safety precautions, the pollsters found, with one in five New Yorkers saying they bought a gun in the last year; 34% saying they have purchased home security cameras; 24% installing video security systems and 26% buying pepper spray, tasers or other non-lethal weapons, to defend themselves.
Men are more likely than women to have been victimized, and younger New Yorkers have been more affected than older New Yorkers, according to the poll conducted between June 4-12.
The crime issue has been on New Yorkers’ minds following a post-pandemic crime wave that included high-profile murders and attacks in NYC subways and other public venues.
Gov. Kathy Hochul argues that while murders and shootings have declined in New York, crime is still “headed in the wrong direction,” with the state’s crime index — including burglary, robbery, rape and assaults — up 21% in 2022 from a year earlier.
The Democrat, who took office in 2021, has blamed bail reforms signed into law by her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, that effectively handcuffed New York’s judges by prohibiting them from setting bail in most criminal cases. She pushed through changes to the bail laws as part of the recently signed budget but has vowed to push to tighten them further.
“We are better off,” Hochul said during a recent radio interview. “I’m not going to say statistics should make people feel better. We’re not done yet by any stretch of the imagination, but it is nowhere what it had been before.”