Even though New Haven was ranked the ninth-most dangerous mid-sized city in the country by an October 2015 FBI crime report, Elm City residents are feeling increasingly secure in New Haven, according to a study released by the research firm DataHaven on Jan. 15.
The DataHaven report — composed of two surveys conducted in 2015, including one by the Community Alliance for Research and Engagement at the Yale School of Public Health — found that 44 percent of respondents felt safe walking through New Haven at night, compared to 34 percent of respondents to similar surveys conducted in 2012. Although there has been an increase in perceived safety, New Haven still lags behind Connecticut’s average, according to the survey. Statewide, 71 percent of residents indicated that they felt relatively safe walking at night.
DataHaven Executive Director Mark Abraham said that while the results could be caused by a number of factors, it is clear that further improvements in city services will make people feel even safer.
“Further investments in high-quality housing, transportation, schools and other services within urban neighborhoods could help reduce the inequalities between urban centers and wealthy towns when it comes to residents’ overall perceptions of community well-being,” he said.
Abraham cited the effect of the city’s decreasing gun crime rates on the survey results. He noted that New Haven Police Department records show a drop in reports of nonfatal shootings, as well as fewer shots fired per month between 2012 and 2015. Abraham also suggested that the increased perception of safety could be a result of growing economic security in the city. New Haven’s under-employment rate dropped from 32 percent in 2012 to 20 percent in 2015, Abraham said.
“Even if very few residents are directly exposed to gun violence, these kind of events can impact what residents see, hear or read about in New Haven everyday, and when they drop to this extent, it is probably going to be reflected in residents’ perceptions of safety,” Abraham wrote in an email to the News.
New Haven residents from within and beyond the University voiced mixed opinions on whether they considered New Haven a safe place to live.
Jonathan Ramirez ’19 said he feels safe walking through New Haven, including at night, but said he is often cautious about carrying valuables with him after dark.
New Haven resident Ginnie Paino said her apartment complex feels safe, but the area immediately surrounding it does not. She said she would not feel comfortable walking through this area at night.
Similarly, Mya King ’18 said she feels safe near Yale’s campus, but less so when she ventures away from it, particularly at night.
Su Lyn Lai GRD ’16 said she feels safe near the Yale School of Medicine and Yale’s main campus. But she said she would not want to leave the campus at night and does not normally go beyond the medical school campus.
Chief of Yale Police Ronnell Higgins usually accompanies his crime reporting emails by reminding students of the importance of walking with others when possible in well-lit and populated areas of the city. He also reminds students to keep valuable items such as cash and portable electronics hidden from view.
DataHaven was founded in 1992.
Correction, Feb. 3: A previous version of this article stated that the current unemployment rate is 20 percent; in fact, that figure represents the city’s under-employment rate.