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Half of NYers say they worry about safety in public places | #schoolsaftey

ALBANY — A new poll says a half of New Yorkers are worried about safety in public places such as schools, stores and houses of worship.

The Siena Research Institute survey, released Wednesday, showed that New Yorkers’ overall worry about crime stayed steady over the last year or so.

But it also showed that residents have concerns about others’ behaviors in public spaces and in transportation settings. And it found a number of residents — a minority but a noticeable share — have taken actions such as buying home security cameras or purchasing tasers or pepper spray. This comes even while there are indications that violent crime rates have declined after a spike in the early part of the pandemic.

Among the Siena findings, those surveyed said in the last 12 months:

  • 51% have been concerned about safety, for themselves or family members, in public places such as schools, shopping areas and houses of worship compared with 48% who aren’t. The numbers hold steady across political lines: 51% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans say they’re concerned.
  • 38% say they have felt threatened by others’ behavior in transportation settings, which can cover airplanes, trains and automobiles. Notably, the rate is higher in New York City (45%) than the metro suburbs (31%) or upstate (33%).
  • 34% have purchased home-security cameras; 24% bought a professionally monitored security system and 26% purchased something other than a firearm for personal safety, such as pepper spray or a taser.
  • 61% are concerned about being a crime victim. This rate has held fairly steady: 60% said the same a year ago; 57% in February 2022.

It’s the first time Siena has asked about public spaces and personal actions regarding fear of crime, so there are no bench marks to show whether concerns are rising, sinking or holding steady, pollster Don Levy said. But he found some of the numbers striking.

“The number maybe displays a higher level of concern about being a crime victim than the crime rate justifies. But when they are asked the question, that’s how they feel,” Levy said.

About 41% of those surveyed agreed with the statement “I’ve never been this worried about my personal safety,” compared with 58% who said their level of concern is the same it’s always been.

The drumbeat of mass shootings in public settings, such as schools and supermarkets, likely affects residents’ concerns about violence in public places, Levy said.

“What are the odds you’re going to be in the wrong Walmart at the wrong time? Well, it’s very small. But if you’re hearing about it all the time,” Levy said, concerns may increase.

Perhaps on a related note, 36% of those surveyed said they felt threatened in the past 12 months in a public place by a stranger’s behavior.

Siena conducted the poll June 4-12, contacting 382 New Yorkers via telephone and drawing 420 responses from an online panel. The results have an overall margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, meaning the answers for each question can vary that much.

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