A report released last month by the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirm that the city of Niagara Falls has - for the second year in a row - the highest crime rate of any municipality in
New York State.
The report, entitled "Crime in the United States 2013" shows that the 3,391 crimes reported in 2013 works out to 684 crimes for every 10,000 residents. The city of Buffalo had the state's next highest crime rate, with 15,740 criminal offenses reported, or 608 for every 10,000 residents.
No other city in the state had a rate higher than Rochester's 577 per 10,000 population.
A report released in December by the website NeighborhoodScout.com ranked Niagara Falls as the "most dangerous" city in New York, using a formula that showed the chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime here were one in 81, and that when property crimes such as burglary, theft and auto theft were figured in, the chance of being victimized rose to an astonishing one in 17.
The rate of property crime in Niagara Falls is more than double the national average, the report stated. In the rest of New York State, the chance of becoming a crime victim is one in 52.
Police Chief Bryan DalPorto said the reports, while accurate, can be misleading. He said Niagara Falls presents a unique set of circumstances because of its standing as a worldwide tourist destination.
"We've got a population of 50,000 but, depending on the season, the number of tourists in town can expand that number significantly," DalPorto told the Reporter.
With more than half of city residents collecting some form of public assistance, the added weight put on property crimes, in some cases stealing food, casts the city in a bad light.
In reality, the crime rate in Niagara Falls went down by five percent in 2013.
Rank and file police officers have told the Reporter that a consent decree entered into between the city and the state Attorney General's office has made it difficult for them to do their jobs properly. The consent decree, in which the city admitted that the police department had racist leanings that affected officer's behavior in the field, has made some cops fearful of disciplinary action for being too aggressive in their fight against crime.
In a study done by a website called mylife.com, Niagara Falls was also labeled as the most dangerous place to live in the state, in part because of the high number of registered sex offenders living in the city.
With as many as 170 registered sex offenders at any one time, Niagara Falls has the highest population of registered sex offenders per capita of any municipality in the state.