November 09, 2004

Our Hometown is ... Frickin' Dangerous

WELL, SO MUCH for the idyllic memories of our youth. FBI statistics prove that our once-glorious hometown of Kalamazoo, Mich., (as the T-shirt said: "There's nothin' to do in Kalamazoo") is a more crime-prone place in which to live than -- wait for it -- New York.

Admittedly, we haven't set foot in Kalamazoo since 1995, but still -- what the hell happened to the place? It's Kalamazoo, in God-fearing and traditionalist western Michigan. It's the Celery City, famed for its muck fields. It's the Bedding Plant Capital of the World. It's not supposed to be a haven for degeneracy and criminality. Yet the statistics do not lie, as a selection of them shows:

New York, 7.75m; Kalamazoo, 76,000.

VIOLENT CRIME RATE per 100,000 citizens:
New York, 977.8; Kalamazoo, 1,066.5. (+9 pc)

New York, 2,744.8; Kalamazoo, 6,780.6 (+147 pc)

New York, 527.7; Kalamazoo, 683.4 (+30 pc)

New York, 479.1; Kalamazoo, 1,567.6 (+227 pc)

New York, 1,802.9; Kalamazoo, 4,576.8 (+154 pc)

About the only crime in which New York is more dangerous than Kalamazoo is robbery: there is considerably less on a per-capita basis back home. Michigan law allows people to pack concealed firearms, so it could be robbers are a bit more shy about conducting their trade. Then again, perhaps there's just less opportunity for robbery.

We also compared Kalamazoo with our present city of residence: Manchester, N.H. We refuse to publish the comparison data because it is downright embarrassing. Plus, our hometown's outright criminality might cause people at work to start avoiding us in the parking lot. ("How do we know Kepple's not a thief? I've got FILE FOLDERS to protect!")

Again, we must ask: what the hell happened?

We mean, this is Kalamazoo-fricking-Michigan we're discussing. When did it become such a cesspit?

We remember one big crime during our time in Kalamazoo: a rather nasty domestic murder several blocks away in a different subdivision. More typical was the time a neighbor discovered a prowler casing her home, and that prompted such an overwhelming police response we can only assume that nothing else was going on that night in our section of town. Oh, and one time a neighbor boy got knocked over the head for his Halloween candy.

That's three incidents in all of fifteen years. Yet apparently things are so bad that one would think twice about moving to the place. Even with our native's perspective, we certainly would. After all, it's one thing if there's nothin' to do, and another entirely if one gets mugged while doing it.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at November 9, 2004 09:13 PM | TrackBack

Well so much for nostalgia about this idyllic small city in the Midwest! It's hard to understand what is happening there. Perhaps these statistics are no more reliable than the government's monthly employment reports!!

Posted by: Swammi in Solon at November 10, 2004 08:44 AM

In our years there I also recall my car being broken into in the hospital parking garage, my windshield being broken in the church parking lot, our bicycle stolen from the garage, then traded up for other stolen bikes in the neighborhood, a murder at the convenience store down on Stadium Drive, your brother's back pack being stolen and ransacked at the middle school,
and the sister of a church member being attacked and severely beaten. (She had to go into the witness protection program!) Maybe this is not a new trend.

Posted by: cousin jannie at November 10, 2004 07:48 PM


You make many valid points here. I can personally attest to the decline of the downtown areas of the Zoo. Still, you are describing surburban K'zoo, not the imfamous North Side. That place was a gang-infested nightmare even when we were in Jr. High and High School. Remember Dave Doezema? He used to be the only white dude in his neighborhood, and used to see all kinds of messed up things. He was given a pass though, as I guess any white person who lived in that area since birth got a free pass from violence; they "has his back" as it were. The stories he would tell me though were brutal; no wonder he went into urban planning........

Posted by: simon from jersey at November 11, 2004 12:22 PM