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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

The facts don’t lie, dude

I’ve been noticing something today about the crime is declining story I wrote for the newspaper.

A lot of people don’t believe it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know police had to chase down a woman after she tried to steal a bunch of meat from Hy-Vee (“Desperate times,” said Lt. Tobey Harrison. “You just never know.”), but when we try to identify whether crime is on the rise or on the decline, we have to use numbers.

The numbers are not perfect. For instance, some people have pointed out that if we want a true picture of how crime-ridden our town is today, we have to compare it to the 1990s or earlier. But Cedar Rapids police don’t have crime stats broken down by month from before 2006. This reflects a lack of PD transparency in past years. It also means I can’t compare the first six months of this year to the first six months of, say, 1995.

It’s quite possible that crime has increased so dramatically since the good old days of the 1990s that a few years of declining crime rates means very little. But the fact is that rates of assault, robbery, theft and homicide have declined not only since last year but also since 2006.

The story doesn’t get into this detail, but from the first half of 2006 to the first half of 2009, reported thefts dropped by 32 percent, assault by 18 percent and robbery by 23 percent. There were three homicides in the first six months of 2006, two in the first six months of this year.

It’s also possible police doctor the crime statistics they keep, but it seems like it would be counterproductive for them, and I doubt it. (If you know better, please prove me wrong.)

Anyone who would like to see the documents that show crime’s decline in C.R. should e-mail me at adam.belz@gazcomm.com and I’d be glad to share them. It’s too much of a hassle to post them to Scribd, because there are too many pages.

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Filed under: Public Safety, , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses

  1. jo says:

    I agree, the facts are that reported crime is down, and actual crime may be down also. But I do know that I and lots of others hardly report theft from our yard, minor vandalism, public intoxication, public urination, people walking down the street at 3 am screaming and cursing anymore, since no one is able to do anything about these incidences and they occur so often. Wonder how much crime goes unreported?

  2. adambelz says:

    That’s a good point, Jo. Unreported crime is the big wild card, and Dale Todd, a former city commish who lives in southeast Cedar Rapids, argues that “quality-of-life crime” is as bad as ever, reported or not. “I don’t think anybody’s feeling safer,” he said.

  3. […] Rapids that it’s difficult to draw statistical conclusions about it, Cedar Rapids’ declining rates of reported crime reflect this national trend (whether you believe it or […]

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