Quantifying Crime: Public Perception Out of Step with Reality


Professor John Pfaff was quoted in The Sentinel about different perceptions of crime rates.

“The general reality, while crime has steadily dropped, people have consistently thought crime is going up even just year to year,” Fordham University School of Law Professor of Law John Pfaff said.

“In some ways the crime drop has been a victim of its own success,” Pfaff said. “Far fewer people experience crime on day-to-day basis, so they get it from the news and things appear far worse than they really are.

“There’s always enough crime to keep the local nightly news leading with something that bleeds,” he said.


Pfaff said this has led people to believe crime is more frequent than it is and remains unchecked because of lack of personal experience with crime.


“I went to college in the South Side of Chicago in the early 1990s, and you could feel things get safer while I was there,” Pfaff said. “So, even if the nightly news started with some horrible crime, my own perceptions were things were getting safer every month on campus.


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