CAIRO — The town of Cairo is ranked as having one of the lowest rates of violent crime and property crime in the state, according to aggregated crime statistics from the FBI.
Cairo, which previously held the No. 10 slot, is the 5th safest town out of 25 towns and cities ranked by New York Upstater, a state tourism website.
Cairo had two aggravated assaults and two burglaries with a population of 6,437, earning a score of 68, according to Upstater.
The FBI statistics convey broad trends and the small sample size can make the rank jump from year to year, Cairo Town Supervisor Daniel Benoit said Thursday.
To compile the list, Upstater compared towns and cities with populations greater than 5,000. Their “crime score” is an aggregation of crime counts for each city with the standardized number of crimes per capita, weighing violent crimes at 80 percent and property crimes at 20 percent. The data is based on the latest available figures from 2016, according to the website.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Cairo resident Sheila Gallagher said about a low violent crime rate. Gallagher returned to her hometown more than two years ago and opened Catching Rays Tanning Salon on Main Street.
“Main Street was a ghost town. We’re trying to build it back up,” Gallagher said. “I do everything I can to promote the area.”
“I agree that Cairo is a safe place to reside,” Benoit said. “There is a perception in town of the prevalence of drugs and it would appear that these statistics don’t bear out that perception.”
The FBI’s statistics are based on the crime numbers voluntarily reported by town police, county sheriff and state police departments, Benoit said.
“Pretty much everything gets reported, but it’s a voluntary thing,” Benoit said. “If the form never gets filled out, then it doesn’t get reported.”
Benoit began his career as a state trooper in Greene County and worked his way up to zone sergeant, assisting the zone commander in Greene and Ulster counties.
“Is there underreporting? Probably,” Benoit said. “Crime is underreported. Municipalities may not fully report because they don’t get around to it or don’t consider it important, or because victims don’t report it to the police.”
Tracking down court records of crimes that occurred in the town would give a more accurate indication of crime rates, Benoit said.
“I tell people all the time, ‘You act like this is the most dangerous place in the world, but you don’t understand,’” Town Councilman Jason Watts said. “We have lower-income people but I think we have a better quality of people than what they get made out to be. We have the best town. It’s just lacking some business.”
New business owners on Main Street chose the location because of a combination of increasing traffic, affordable prices and emotional connection to the town.
“My personal opinion is that [Cairo] is on the way up in regards to positivity, not necessarily crime,” said Maureen McNamara, owner of Rockabilly Tattoo Studio on Main Street. “But I think the town is coming back to life. I’ve seen an increase in traffic and people. That’s why we chose to open here. We opened up last month and we’ve been busy.”
“I moved back to town and it doesn’t seem safer than 16 years ago,” said Ian Herchenroder, who opened the bicycle shop Redtail Suspension more than a year ago on Main Street.
Herchenroder grew up in Cairo and worked at the storefront he now rents, when it was operating as Toad’s Car Stereo.
“On Main Street, I’ve had some creepy characters, but in general everybody is nice,” Herchenroder said. “It’s cheap rent and it’s centrally located, I get local customers from the mountain, across the river, Albany and Kingston.”