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Local counties rank low in recent study

ERIE COUNTY—According to a recent study done by Safer America, an organization whose main goal is to provide information to people in order to increase safety and awareness, many local counties are ranked low as best places to live in New York based on crime rate and income rank. Erie County was ranked 50th, Cattaraugus County 58th and Chautauqua County 62nd, out of 62 total counties.

In Cattaraugus County, it was found that they are ranked 18th in crime rate and 55th in income rank. Erie County fared better in their income rank at 24th, but are one of the highest in crime rate at fourth. Chautauqua, which was rated the worst county, ranked 10th in crime rate and 60th in income rank.

“It matched up that areas with a high crime rate have a lower income rank and vice versa,” said Jason Zimelman, public relations director for Safer America. “The idea that places that are more dangerous to live have a lower salary are proven.”

But why do these counties rank so low?

According to Cattaraugus County Sheriff Tim Whitcomb, the correlation between the two numbers and the number of rural properties is a big reason why the crime rate is higher than others.

“Poverty rates have historically had a connection to crime rate,” said Whitcomb.

“One of the things we have here in Cattaraugus County that many counties don’t have is a lot of rural properties and a lot of people have seasonal camps who only use their homes in the winter or summer,” said Whitcomb. “I do think that our percentage of property crime that way is higher than others because we have a lot of rural structured places that are outside of neighbors’ eyesight. So we have a lot of seasonal properties that get hit periodically.”

But Whitcomb and the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department are working hard to get that crime number down.

“There are some trending crimes that have been taking place that we are trying to get more proactive and reactive on,” said Whitcomb.

In terms of income rank, there are many reasons why theses counties rank so low, according to St. Bonaventure University economics professor Bryan McCannon.

“One of the main reasons is the lack of larger scale employers,” said McCannon. “There are a few that bring in lots of jobs, but we need more of that to provide the good higher paying jobs rather than the low income ones. New York has been known as a business unfriendly state with high taxes and high energy rates and it drives employers to other states.”

McCannon also confirmed that the correlation between crime rate and low income rank is true and it is prevalent in counties like Erie, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua.

“The fundamental link between income and crime is that if you have a nice job with a nice income and a solid career, there is a pretty high cost to you for committing a crime,” said McCarron. “But if you are unemployed or earning low wages, there is not as much to lose.”

To see the full study, visit


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