Many locals followed closely the events and trial of Jason Lee, who was recently acquitted of raping a young woman from Ireland at his Wainscott summerhouse.
While Lee was found to be innocent, the mere fact that this crime occupied the headlines got me thinking—when it comes to living in the Hamptons, are we safer or less-safe than other parts of the country?
For me, I not only wanted to know how likely it is that we would be subjected to criminality like rape, murder and assault, but also which is a more protected place to live; Southampton or East Hampton? Luckily, crime statistics exist to demonstrate the answers to these very questions.
My search brought me to CityData.com. It should be noted that in order to be more accurate in their reporting, like the resemblance of population in our area, they do adjust for the number of visitors and daily workers commuting into cities.
In Southampton, between the years 2006 and 2012, there were only two confirmed rapes. They occurred in 2007 and 2011. During the same period there was only one murder and that was in 2008. There were 20 assaults during this 7-year period, and 2007 was the worst of those years with a total of 8.
In East Hampton from 2006– 2012, there was only one confirmed rape. It was in 2010. During the same period there were no murders. There were only 12 assaults and 8 of those were recorded in 2009.
Now, of course, in order to accurately compare the safety of the two Hamptons, we have to take into consideration the comparative populations of Southampton vs. East Hampton. When it comes to reporting crime statistics, this is done by using an incident rate per 100,000 persons.
If you consider all types of crimes, including rapes, murders, assaults, thefts, robberies, burglaries, arson and auto thefts, the U.S. average is 294.5 per 100,000 people. From 2006–2012, Southampton, in its worse year, only reflected 181.6 crimes per 100,000 people, which is still below the U.S. average. For the same period the least number of crimes per year was 2010 and that was 112.3 per 100,000 people.
For East Hampton, the safest year was 2011 and it had a rate of 107.0 crimes per 100,000 people. The most dangerous year during the same period was 2010, which had 153.9 crimes per 100,000 people. Like Southampton, this was also below the U.S. average.
It is comforting to know that Southampton and East Hampton were well below the national average in terms of crimes. And in reality, as a comparative, they are pretty similar in terms of overall safety. But for bragging rights, East Hampton is slightly safer.
To what can we attribute our status as being on the lower end of the crime spectrum? One thought is that an island setting offers less routes of escape from the authorities, unless of course they have a boat. A case could also be made that the more educated the populace, the lower the potential of them committing violent crimes. A competent police presence can also be a contributing factor to reducing villainy.
Whatever the case, I hope that we continue to enjoy a safe environment where being a victim of crime need not occupy our minds. We are constantly bragging about many things our area offers, and the reduced crime rate should certainly be one of them.