One City's Data Illustrates A Common Point On Violent Crime

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Violent crime is a problem that tends to draw out universal concern. Everyone wants to address it. After all, it could be any of us, right?

But we all know that some cities are more violent than others, especially on a per capita basis. I mean, once upon a time, my hometown of Albany, Georgia was the murder capital of the United States. I’m oddly proud of that, for some reason, yet it’s true. It was only true because of per capita counting, but still…

So we know this is a problem and we know it’s worse in some places than others. In the city of Roanoke, they took it a step further.

New data from the Roanoke Police Department shows how gun violence incidents are concentrated within city limits. The new data was presented at Tuesday night’s Gun Violence Prevention Commission meeting.

Roanoke Police Department’s Isaac Van Patten presented data pinpointing what he calls, ‘hot spots.’ As to where the majority of gun violence incidents have occurred over the past four years. According to his data, more than 50% of gun-related calls to RPD come from Northwest Roanoke.

“What was presented tonight confirmed the concern and the desire we have for all of our neighborhoods to be safe. And that some neighborhoods in our city are more vulnerable to crime and there are a lot of factors that contribute to that,” said Gun Violence Prevention Commission Chair, Joe Cobb.

Of course, on some level, this isn’t shocking at all.

Think about your community. Where are you most likely to hear about a shooting taking place?

Some part of your town just popped into your head. It did that because that’s where many of the other shootings have taken place. On some level, we already know there are hotspots. Roanoke just dialed them down a bit.

What’s more, I suspect you’d see a similar trend in every other city you care to name.

For all our talk here about how bad things are in Chicago, not all of Chicago is created equally. Forest Glen and Washington Park are quite different when it comes to violent crime. You don’t have a lot of drive-bys in Forest Glen, after all.

In Los Angeles, you know that you’re more likely to get shot in Compton than on Rodeo Drive.

These are established statistical facts. However, we can’t talk about them. We’re not allowed to have discussions about these because all too often, these higher crime areas coincide with majority black or Hispanic neighborhoods. To point out that more violent crime takes place in these neighborhoods is called racist by many, so we don’t get to have the discussion.

Meanwhile, it’s the people who actually live in these neighborhoods that are suffering, meaning the stifling of discussion is likely having a more racist impact than just talking about it.

Funny how that shakes out, isn’t it?

Maybe someday we can actually hold a frank discussion about this kind of thing so that maybe, just maybe, we can make these communities safer for everyone, but especially the folks who live there.