Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Reader questions data used in crime report


To the editor:

Thank you for the report by Jim Roberts on February 20, 2024 covering the crime statistics in Peekskill.  I’m all for government transparency, so I’m happy to see statistics being shared, but I found some of the numbers confusing.

Statistics provided without a data source was the City Manager’s claim about population growth and increased crime, where he’s quoted as saying “Another important factor is the sheer number of new people who have moved into Peekskill over the past few years, with 5 percent growth in some single years alone.”

According to the U.S. Census the population of Peekskill was 25,431 on April 1, 2020. A 5 percent increase would mean 1,271 new people moved to Peekskill in a year — that’s 105 people a month, or a family of 3 every single day.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Census estimated a 0.3 percent growth in Peekskill between April 2020 and July 2022. And data from real estate company Houlihan Lawrence shows that between 2021-2023 an average of 91 homes were sold each year (8 homes a month) in Peekskill, versus 107 homes per year during 2017-2020. While there have been 154 new apartments added to Peekskill since 2020 (22 units at 216 Division, 52 senior units at 1847 Crompond, and 80 units at 645 Main added in the last quarter of 2023), these raw housing numbers don’t seem to support the idea that Peekskill even has the capacity to have grown by thousands in the last few years. Even if every apartment was rented by a family of four that would only equal 616 people, less than half the 1,271 that would represent a 5 percent population increase.  And linking any growth to an increase in crime in 2022 seems even more tenuous.

Again, maybe the growth numbers are accurate and they are a contributing factor in crime, but we need to see the actual data that supports this.

Lastly, it seems like the main takeaway from the report is that Peekskill’s investment in growing its police force is a contributing factor in the reported drop in crime between 2022 and 2023.

I certainly hope that’s true — we all want a well-policed city with less crime that we can all feel safe raising our families in — but the data as presented fails to make a compelling case for the claim. All we’re given is that there were 44 police officers in the fall of 2021, today there are 53 officers, and during that time crime went both up and down.

But when were those officers hired? If they were all hired yesterday, then obviously they had no impact on crime rates in 2023. Were any hired in 2022 when crime was rising, and if so when? Can we see a graph or table showing the trend over time of police hiring and the dropping crime rates with data sources cited and linked?

As I wrote in my commentary in January, we need open data to make our city better. The keyword here is open. I don’t think we should have to go through a middleman (NY Division of Criminal Justice or The Herald) to view the crime data for our own city.

I know The Herald is working hard to bring the best information to Peekskill with limited resources, and it’s much appreciated — let’s keep pushing for open data and citing and linking to sources so that we can fact-check data-related claims like those presented in the recent crime report.

Frederick Dennstedt, 235 Ringgold Street