Boston Homicides: As City Gets Safer, Neighborhoods Suffer

Murders in the city of Boston have been decreasing for decades now. But while law enforcement and city officials are proud to tout this fact, they often misrepresent the true nature of such violent crime in Boston. While the city is getting safer, crime pushes outward and its neighborhoods suffer.

Data acquired from the Boston Police Department shows that the number of homicides in the city has decreased immensely from 1963 to 2014. However, at the same time, the number of homicides has increased in Dorchester and Roxbury. Even if Bostonians are feeling safer, chances are residents in these neighborhoods are not.

Dorchester and Roxbury are predominantly low-income and African-American neighborhoods. Their population grew over the years, as families that once lived in the city were forced out by gentrification and increasing rent (notably in the South End). This could be one factor in the increased homicide rate in those areas.

It is important to note that the data shown above is incomplete. The police department did not include addresses in its homicide records in 1971 or during a large chunk of the 1980s. The trend may have been different during those years, but we can’t know. I chose to leave those columns in because I thought that was the most transparent method. I want to be honest about what data I do and do not possess for my analysis.

Another point to note is that due to the visualization on a relative 100-percent scale, it may appear as though Boston had no homicides in the last few years, but that is not true. The visualization simply omits it to represent a very low number of homicides in the city those years.

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