Pittsburgh, a city of about 305,000, is a safe and relatively crime-free city, right?
Ferguson, Missouri, is lawless and crime-ridden and needs an aggressive police force to keep its citizens in line, right?
But let’s look at some boring numbers.
The St. Louis County city’s population of 21,000 – roughly 65 percent black and 35 percent white — has 54 cops.
All but 3 are white, which has caused black leaders and the media to assume that the disproportionate number of black people stopped by police is a result of racism.
It could be that Ferguson’s cops had so little real crime to worry about they, like many of their brethren in all-white and super-safe suburbs across the land, concentrated on petty traffic stops and harassing teenagers.
Without a real breakdown on actual “crimes” and such statistics as the ages of the races (old white folks are less likely to be stopped by police, while young black males on foot or in cars will be targeted, etc.) and the profiles of the convicted criminals, the numbers thrown around by the media and idiots like The Rev. Al Sharpton mean nothing.
Statistics can lie and confuse but they can also illuminate.
For example, Pittsburgh’s population is about 25 percent black. Its crime stats – particularly the 41 homicides in 2012 – were like most big cities heavily skewed by the black-male-on-black-male drug-gang wars on its streets. Otherwise, Pittsburgh is an incredible safe town, at least as far being a murder victim is concerned.
But as we watch Ferguson’s nightly riots and lootings (mostly performed by out-of-town trouble-makers), let’s not feel so smug, Pittsburghers.
In 2012, the last year city-data.com offers, Pittsburgh’s murder rate per 100,000 people was higher than Ferguson’s. So was its rape rate and robbery rate. Pittsburgh’s assault rape was twice as high.
Ferguson’s bad guys did more burglaries, stole more cars and committed more thefts per 100,000 people, but Pittsburgh blew Ferguson away on arsons – 249 to 0, though the virtual absence of arsons in Ferguson from 2000 to 2012 is highly suspicious.
Over all, according to city-data’s numbers anyway, Ferguson commits more crimes per capita than Pittsburgh.
The average crime rate for the United States is meaningless, since it includes virtually crimeless places like Vermont and there is no such place as Average Town, USA.
But in 2012 the U.S. average was 301.1, while Pittsburgh’s was 358.3 and Ferguson’s was 381.1. Chicago, where there were 500 murders in 2012 (most of them black males killed not by white cops but by other black males), the crime rate per 100,000 people was 562 in 2011 (the latest year city-data offered) when the national rate was 214.
So, to sum up the shocking news, Ferguson’s crime rate is only slightly higher than Pittsburgh’s but Chicago’s crime spree makes both cities look like daycare centers.
Here are the crime charts for 2011 and 2012.
|Crime rates in Pittsburgh by Year|
|City-data.com crime rate (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 301.1)||368.2||358.3|
|Crime rates in Ferguson by Year|
|City-data.com crime rate (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 297.5)||433.0||381.1|
|Crime rates in Chicago by Year|
|City-data.com crime rate (higher means more crime, U.S. average = 301.1)||554.3||562.0||N/A|
Ex-newspaperman Bill Steigerwald is the author of Dogging Steinbeck, which exposes the truth about “Travels With Charley” and celebrates Flyover America and its people. Blogs, photos, a 1960 Steinbeck/”Charley” trip timeline and more are at TruthAboutCharley.com.