Is York the 18th most violent city in the U.S.? One website claims it is

York City Police officers go over information for a report. YORK DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS — FILE PHOTO

A resent link was buzzing around Twitter and Facebook with the claim that York was the 18th most violent city in the United States.

That number was surprising, so I decided to take a closer look and see where this information was coming from.

A link being shared on social media took me to Neighborhood Scout, a website run by Location Inc.

If you go on the website, you can type in any city and state and see its crime statistics from 2011. The 2012 statistics are not yet available. In addition to crime rates, the site also lists school district information and housing prices.

According to the site’s FAQ section, it gets its numbers from the FBI when its annual numbers are released. It then breaks down the crimes per capita by looking at cities with populations of 25,000 or more to determine the most violent cities in the U.S.

The FBI does a similar list, but it looks at cities with populations of 100,000 or more — so it’s easy to see why the results are different.

But is York really the 18th most violent city in the U.S.? I’m not so sure.

An email to Andrew Schiller with Location Inc. asking for more information didn’t seem too helpful. Schiller responded with a link to the FAQ’s page, which I had already read.

The one question Schiller failed to answer was why does the large map of York County only show parts of the county, and not other areas, such as Hellam Township and Wrightsville, where police departments submit crime numbers every year?

And why does York not even show up on the list from 2010? It just jumped to the 18th most violent city in the past year?

Neighborhood Scout also says they look at crime statistics based on neighborhoods — not police departments. But UCR reports released by police don’t give street addresses or neighborhoods. So where are these numbers coming from?

If you really want to see the crime numbers for your neighborhood — here’s how reporters in York County look at numbers ever year.

Uniform Crime Reports

State police release uniform crime reports every spring. The numbers are voluntarily submitted by police departments on a monthly basis and then compiled at the end of the year.

State police then sends the numbers to the FBI, which is where I assume Neighborhood Scout gets its numbers. We won’t know until they answer my questions.

The annual crime reports are available online to the public by clicking this link here. They go back to 1999, but later numbers are available by request through the state police.

Uniform Crime Reports breaks down crimes into Part I and Part II. Part I are the more violent crimes, such as murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and arson. Part II crimes involve lesser crimes, such as fraud, forgery, vandalism, gambling, DUI and disorderly conduct.

Each department breaks down these crimes — so you can see how many fraud cases took place for Southern Regional Police and how many assault were reported for Northern York County Regional Police.

Police are not required to submit UCR numbers, so some are not available for previous years. It was only in the past five years that more departments starting submitting the numbers.

Have you ever looked at a breakdown of crime numbers for your jurisdiction? What do you think of the numbers that Neighborhood Scout has shared?

About Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca Hanlon is the health reporter with a religion sub beat at the York Daily Record/Sunday News. Follow her on Twitter @mrsbeccahanlon or on Facebook at facebook.com/byrebeccahanlon.

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