OMAHA - A new report from the University of Nebraska at Omaha's (UNO) Center for Public Affairs Research has identified a number of key statistics regarding the level of safety felt by Nebraska's metro residents.
Findings show that residential location and personal demographic characteristics are major factors shaping perceptions on crime and personal safety among the residents of Nebraska's most populous counties.
The analysis, which is based on responses to the 2014 Nebraska Metro Poll, not only indicates that Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster County residents are more concerned about crime, but that residents from the eastern half of Douglas County, including Omaha, are by far the most concerned.
"The focus on crime in metropolitan areas is significant because metro areas in Nebraska are more affected by crime than rural parts of the state," explained David Drozd, Research Coordinator for CPAR. "Given these localized areas of relatively higher crime, the Metro Poll sought to understand how metropolitan Nebraskans view their personal safety."
Several key findings in the analysis included:
1) While Sarpy and Lancaster County residents responded at a rate of 90 percent that they were satisfied with their day-to-day personal safety, only 74 percent of Douglas County residents indicated they felt satisfied.
When that number was divided geographically, 85 percent of respondents from western Douglas County felt positively about personal safety while just 47 percent of residents from eastern Douglas County reported positive views.
2) Of all Douglas County respondents, less than one third indicated they worried about personally being a victim of crime, but that number jumped to near 50 percent among residents in the eastern part of Douglas County, compared to 25 percent in other parts of the county.
3) Nearly 40 percent of all metro residents indicated being the victim of at least one crime in the past 6 months, with 20 percent reporting two or more recent crime victimizations. That figure was higher at 25 percent among Douglas County residents, which is nearly double the percentage in Sarpy County.
4) Those more likely than their counterparts to report being a victim of two or more crimes were respondents who were renters (31 percent), were making under $40,000 a year (29 percent), had only high school or less education (28 percent), were unmarried (28 percent), were minorities (25 percent) and were under the age of 40 (22 percent).
5) Respondents in Douglas County reported the highest likelihood of doing something about their safety concerns with 40 percent indicating they had taken four or more actions such as installing a home security system or leaving lights on at night. Comparatively, only 28 percent of Sarpy County respondents and 21 percent of Lancaster County residents had taken extensive actions to improve their sense of safety.
6) When responding about changes in safety over time, only 18 percent of respondents in metro areas felt safer than they did five years ago. Surprisingly, the figure was higher among those with only a high school education (28 percent), minorities (27 percent) and renters (24 percent), groups that reported relatively high levels of crime victimization.
Additionally, only 6 percent of metro Nebraskans said the crime situation in their community had changed for the better in the last few years, versus 39 percent who said it had worsened. Within Douglas County, residents from the eastern part of the county, which had the highest rates of concern for safety, were three times more likely than their western counterparts (11.1 percent to 3.7 percent) to indicate that the crime situation had improved in recent years.
"Nearly half of respondents to our survey identified crime as one of the top three issues facing metro Nebraska, so clearly crime is an important issue on the minds of metro residents," said Abby Heithoff, a researcher on the project and the report's lead author.
The survey also asked whether respondents agreed that people would move away from urban areas to more rural areas in response to crime.
"We found that those in outlying metro counties were twice more likely than those in more populated metro areas to agree that people will move because rural areas are safer," Drozd said. "This points to crime being one reason people choose to move to outlying, less densely populated metro areas."
The full report can be found online at CPAR's website at www.unomaha.edu/cpar.
For questions about the report's findings, please contact Drozd at 402.554.2132 or email@example.com.
For media inquiries, please contact:
Charley Reed, UNO Associate Director of Media Relations
402.554.2129 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam Petto, UNO Media Relations Coordinator
402.554.2704 or email@example.com
NOTE: The seven Nebraska counties in the Omaha and Lincoln metro areas and covered in the Metro Poll are Cass, Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Saunders, Seward, and Washington.
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