Harrisburg, Pa. the city: Statistics and such

I finished a post-graduate internship in Harrisburg, Pa. at the end of last month.

I learned a great deal working for the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association, including much far outside the world of journalism and even the capitol: Harrisburg the city.

Like many state capitals – particularly one of states as large as Pennsylvania – Harrisburg might be best described as Washington D.C. lite. It a city with a large business class of professionals – all of whom are there for government and most of whom do not live in the city of 47,000.

So, hanging around the capitol during the day might lead one to a very different view on the city or on Second Street on a Friday night than statistics might suggest. 

Less than a third of the city is white, better than half is black, with a third percent Asian, according to the U.S. Census.

I should follow that by noting the caution offered by the FBI.

Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region.  Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction.  

In 2007, Harrisburg residents face 1,690 acts of violent crime per 100,000 people – 15 percent more than what Philadelphians face, 1,475 per 100,000. Considering Philly is the most violent city of the country’s 10 most populous, Harrisburg as a whole – not just the Second Street and capitol portions most outsiders come to know – doesn’t seem as safe. That with crime having dropped nationwide last year.

Philadelphia does retain its violent reputation when considering only murder, with 27 homicides per 100,000 versus 21 in Harrisburg.