At the sleepy little burg where I work, I often get calls from people who are moving into the area and want to know "What's a good neighborhood?". I then inform them that I can't give them a subjective opinion about a neighborhood or characterize it as good or bad.
I then explain to them that the opinions we form about a place are largely based on our personal experiences. That someone who grew up in a one stop-light town in Montana will make judgements about the safety of a neighborhood differently than someone who grew up in Camden, New Jersey. For me to give an opinion would be a losing proposition. I do point them to our online crime map where they can conduct a more objective analysis of the community.
There was a very interesting piece over at The Atlantic Cities that looks at Why People Perceive Some Cities as Safer Than Others. In the story was this bit:
Interestingly, while Gallup finds a substantial connection between crime and safety, the results of Mellander's analysis are mixed on this score. According to Gallup: "Though crime statistics are not available for all MSAs, there is a strong negative correlation (-.64) between the FBI's 2010 violent crime rate for an MSA and the percentage of the MSA residents who report feeling safe -- with the cities where residents feeling safest having lower crime rates, and vice versa." Mellander's analysis picks up a similar negative correlation (-.63) between perceptions of safety and gun murders (homicide only, not including suicide) per capita. But she finds no statistically significant association between perceived safety and a range of crime per capita measures based on the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, including for violent crime and property crime.Via The Atlantic Cities
So maybe it's not just crime statistics that affect our perceptions of the safety of our communities. In fact, the article points to the study's conclusions of what makes a community feel safe. Hit the link to read the whole story.