Oklahoma’s Now More Dangerous Than California or New York
There was a moment in last week's Oklahoma gubernatorial debate that seemed to have raised a lot of eyebrows.
Joy Hoffmeister chimed in that Oklahoma is now more dangerous than California or New York, specifically that Oklahoma has higher violent crime rates than the coast capital states... Governor Kevin Stitt was noticeably flabbergasted by this, asking if anybody could possibly believe such a statement.
While all politicians tell lies, they don't usually spout off without the tiniest hint of truth. So does Oklahoma have more violent crime than California or New York? Well, no... but we have a higher rate of violent crime on a technicality.
This all stems from a laundry list of metrics that make up statistics, and numbers don't lie, but they can be swayed.
On the list of most violent states in the US, Oklahoma ranks as the 14th most violent state. California comes in listed at 17th and New York is the 27th most violent state... but statistics alone don't tell the whole story.
As these numbers are based on a scale to force each state into an equally sized box, it's the population metrics that skew the numbers.
Oklahoma recorded 436.3 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2019. With our population, that means that a total of 17,229 violent crimes (murder, rape, assault, manslaughter, robbery, etc...) occurred here in the Sooner State that year.
If you did the math for California at its 442.1 crime rate per hundo-thou, that's around 173,966 violent crimes for 2019. New York's 361 adds up to 70,396 violent crimes.
Actual numbers aren't nearly as sensational as statistics are they? Take New Orleans for example. 2021 was a rough year in The Big Easy. They scored a 17-year high for murders on the bayou, enough to be dubbed the "Murder Capital Of The United States," but NOLA didn't have the most murders in 2021 by a long shot.
New Orleans had 218 murders in 2021. When you do the math, it has a murder rate of 55.8 murders per 100,000 people.
Chicago had 797 murders in 2021. Compared to the population, the murder rate is only 29.8 murders per 100,000 people.
Numbers don't lie, but you can see how statistics can skew, right? Smaller populations tend to be more violent based on the numbers because the pool of measurement is so much smaller.
Looking at the most recent list of Most Dangerous Cities in the US due to violent crime, all but one of the cities listed in the Top 30 are all under a million-person population threshold. Houston is the wildcard there with a 2.4mil general populace, but Houston is a wild place to live.
So, is Oklahoma a more dangerous place to live than California or New York? Honestly, and this is my opinion here, it's probably all about the same. Safety and violence depend a lot on your personal activity.
If you live and work in Lawton, taking part in public activities, kids sports, and such, you'll likely never be the victim of a violent crime... but if you spend enough time defending your ego in one of our infamous dive bars or popping into random trap houses to score your next high, you'll likely to not be as lucky. I'd imagine the same goes for any town or state you choose to live in.