By Kristen Doerschner
ALIQUIPPA — When District Attorney Anthony Berosh speaks to community groups throughout Beaver County, he poses a question to them: How many homicides do you think Aliquippa had last year?
The estimates people typically give are astoundingly high, he said, often ranging from 20 to as high as 40.
In reality, the numbers aren’t even remotely close to that high. There was one homicide in the city in 2013, two in 2012 and none in 2011.
Berosh said when he tells people the actual numbers, they are “flabbergasted.”
Certain factors within a community tend to correlate to higher crime statistics. Berosh said areas of dense population, a higher proportion of lower-income residents, a large number of rental properties and a large number of residents under the age of 25 tend to have more crime.
Statistics do show the instances of violent crime in Aliquippa have been on a downward trend over the past decade.
“You can’t deny that crime occurs in Aliquippa. You can’t deny that crime occurs in any of our communities,” Berosh said.
The problem is the perception many people have regarding that crime.
Berosh is quick to point out the perception problem isn’t Aliquippa’s problem.
“The problem we have as a Beaver County community is the perception we have of Aliquippa,” he said. “They don’t have that problem of perception. We do.”
Residents and community leaders in the city are frustrated by the view so many people seem to have.
Herb Bailey moved to Aliquippa from Nashville, Tenn., nearly two years ago to run the ministry at Uncommon Grounds, a popular coffee shop on Franklin Avenue. He quickly found the city to be an inviting place that he made home and moved his family to Franklin Avenue.
He said he has no hesitation about living in the city or letting his teenage daughters walk through town on their own. He doesn’t view the city as a dangerous place.
But Bailey learned in short order how others view his new home.
He said his daughters — who have an interest in art and attend Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland — would invite friends to visit, but their parents were afraid to let their children go to Aliquippa.
Slowly that is changing, and more parents are allowing their children to visit, he said.