For the second year in a row, the city of Niagara Falls has topped the list as the most violent city in New York State, according to the 2016 report “Crime in the United States,” released this week by the FBI.
There were a total of 565 violent crimes reported for Niagara Falls for all of 2016. Based on a population of 48,675, that means that if you are a resident of the city of Niagara Falls, there was more than one chance in 100 that you were robbed, raped, murdered or assaulted last year. It also imparted to the city the ignominious distinction of having the highest per capita rate of violent crime in the state, for cities with population above 30,000.
The actual breakdown was as follows: 3 murders, 14 rapes, 199 robberies (up from 156 last year) and 349 aggravated assaults.
Examples of Niagara Falls crimes that have gone viral, gaining worldwide notoriety thanks to the miracle of the world wide web, include the harassment and repeated slapping of a disabled man outside of a downtown supermarket, the tossing of a garbage can off the top of a parking ramp that near-killed a female tourist from Ohio and a drunk running amok in the Third Street tourist district, assaulting a TV crew that was filming there, destroying their equipment and sending them to the hospital.
Interestingly, and by way of contrast, the town and village of Lewiston together experienced all of 6 violent crimes in 2016 (at a rate of less than 1/100 of what the city did), including 2 rapes and 4 assaults. Lewiston is the major suburb of Niagara Falls, located north of the city on the other side of Niagara University and the massive Niagara Power Project hydroelectric dam.
Coming in second behind Niagara Falls was the city of Buffalo, with a total of 2,857 violent crimes. Based on a population of 257,446, however, the per capita rate was lower.
The FBI also released “Property Crime” statistics, comprising burglary, larceny, car theft and arson. Niagara Falls came in at a whopping 2,402 property crimes for 2016, at a per capita rate of one property crime for every 20 people who live here. While that’s a drop of 3.7% from 2015, nationwide, property crime also decreased, so even that slight difference could simply be due to the overall trend.
The fact is, ten years into the tenure of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster, the rates of both violent and property-based crime have remained high.
Considering that the city’s population was 51,285 in 2009 when Mayor Dyster took over, 2,610 more than it is now, the more or less constant rates of violent and property crime actually equate to losing ground and are still – as the FBI points out – not only dangerously high, but also the highest in the state.