Thursday, 24 August 2023

Gallup poll: Los Angeles among five cities deemed unsafe to live in or visit

 Los Angeles has a complex and layered identity. With its glitzy entertainment industry, cultural diversity and iconic landmarks, it captures the world's imagination.

However, beneath the shimmering surface, the city grapples with a persistent challenge: crime. From gang violence to property crime, Los Angeles confronts a multifaceted battle to maintain safety and security for its residents and visitors.

According to the latest Gallup poll, which surveyed Americans' perceptions of safety in major U.S. cities, Los Angeles finds itself in an unfavorable position. Ranking third from the bottom on the list of 16 cities, Los Angeles is considered unsafe to live in or visit by 58 percent of respondents. 

Among the factors contributing to these concerns is the issue of violent crime.

Los Angeles, a Democratic stronghold, has a violent crime rate of 29.1, higher than the United States average of 22.7. Gang-related violence has long been a thorn in the city's side, contributing to the image of specific neighborhoods as high-risk areas.

One major point of contention in the crime discourse is the city's soft-on-crime District Attorney George Gascon. Accused of implementing policies that are perceived as lenient on crime, Gascon has faced criticism for his approach to charges related to addiction and homelessness.

His policies have refrained from filing charges such as disturbing the peace, simple drug possession and trespassing, instead recommending suspects for mental health diversion programs. This approach has ignited debates about balancing public safety with the need for reform within the criminal justice system.

Joining Los Angeles in the group of five cities deemed unsafe by at least half of the respondents are Philadelphia (50 percent), New York (57 percent), Chicago (70 percent) and Detroit (73 percent).

San Francisco, another big city in California, also finds itself in the lower half of the 16 cities included in the survey, with 46 percent saying it's not safe to live in or visit there. The City by the Bay is tied with Washington for the 10th and 11th spots.

Survey highlights partisan divide in perceptions of city safety

The Gallup poll highlights a partisan divide in perceptions of city safety.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents view more cities as safe, with Republicans expressing greater concerns. This division raises questions about the broader narrative surrounding crime and safety in the country, as well as its impact on policy decisions.

Most Democrats find nearly all the cities safe, except Chicago and Detroit. Most Republicans, on the other hand, consider only five cities safe: Las Vegas, Miami, Dallas, Boston and Houston. Democrats are most inclined to see Seattle and Boston as safe, whereas Boston and Dallas rank as the top safe cities among Republicans.

Dallas tops the list of safest cities followed by Boston and Seattle.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults find Dallas (74 percent) and Boston (72 percent) safe, with majorities ranging from 52 to 63 percent viewing nine other cities as secure. These cities include Seattle, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

In contrast, less than half of Americans believe that Philadelphia (47 percent), New York (41 percent), and Los Angeles (41 percent) are safe, while only 26 percent see Detroit as safe, and 27 percent perceive Chicago as safe.

Differences in perceptions of city safety remain consistent across gender and annual household income, with minimal gaps across age, urbanicity, and education level. Young adults, urban residents and college graduates tend to rate cities as safer.

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