Crime Update - September 2020

The second issue is the crime wave that doesn’t exist. Overall crime is down this year. Crime rates have been dropping since May when there was a bump and September saw one of the lowest numbers in the last three years. 

Crimes are broken up into two major categories. Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 crimes make up what is commonly known as index crimes. The State of Michigan defines it well:

Index Crime includes murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. These eight crimes serve as a common indicator of the nation's crime experience because of their seriousness and frequency of occurrence.

In Alameda there are a number of ever-changing narratives around recent increases in crime that don’t hold up to scrutiny. There are two aspects of crime and enforcement that create the snapshot. Crime reports and clearances. On both measures, Alameda is doing ok. The crime rate is down and clearance rates are up. This means that there are fewer crimes being committed AND we are catching more of the people committing them (again, kudos to Alameda’s detectives).

May 2020 saw a spike in Part 1 crimes as Alameda and the county started to open up a little with the Pandemic. This mirrored what the Alameda’s police department reports as increases throughout the County and region.

Since that time, Part 1 crimes have dropped every month and in September are sixth lowest than any time in almost three years. August and September have been below our annual average

Although we have experienced five months of decline we also need to look at annual and quarterly trends as well. These are graphed here for the time I have been on the council. Note that recently quarterly numbers are below 2019 and also similar to pre-June numbers. The dip is the lockdown and the bump is the May 2020 spike.

Not everything is down. Looking at the three-month average ending September 2019 compared to September 2020, we are down a little. In fact, we are down in most of the categories. We are up in:

  • Murder (2 more than last year’s 0)
  • Rape (3 more than last year’s 4)
  • Robbery (4 more than last year’s 72)

Our law enforcement staff are aware and working to bring these down. No one doubts that the only acceptable number is zero. Each of these numbers has a victim and then also family, friends and loved ones who are impacted as well.

Robberies are up over the last couple of months, here’ the three-month rolling average, it needs watching, trend is still down but over the last two years, it’s trending down.

While I could provide graphs for all the crimes, the other one that comes up is Auto Theft. This has seen a slight increase in the last two years (following regional trends again), but the last few months have seen a decrease and September was under the trendline. It’s far too early to say it’s a full-on trend and will bear continued watching.

While not every single metric has gone down, the short-term trends are good. Crime is down, including Part 1 crimes. In this election time, there is an interest in creating narratives that may reflect badly on incumbents but that don't hold up to simple scrutiny.

I have requested information related to staffing and also robbery/assault committed with firearms to provide a deeper understanding for we electeds and also our community.

Because there is a community-led committee that has made a lot of data requests and that data should be prioritized, it may take some time to get further information, but if you have information that you think might help inform ongoing community discussions, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments and I'll add it to my list for future discussion.

Be safe, health and well. And don't forget to social distance and wear a mask.

Showing 9 reactions

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  • Richard Thomas
    commented 2020-10-28 11:10:45 -0700
    I have already updated my data to reflect John’s 2020 data. Our data sets are in agreement. The reader can decide who is being disingenuous about whether Part 1 crime is rising or falling.
  • Lauren Do
    commented 2020-10-28 09:32:58 -0700
    That’s why John is so awesome, because he’s willing engage all people, even when they’re trying to present disingenuous arguments in the from of “clarifying data.” And doesn’t, you know, block them.
  • Richard Thomas
    commented 2020-10-28 09:29:16 -0700
    John was gracious enough to give me his data himself, without condescension. I guess that’s just him.
  • Lauren Do
    commented 2020-10-28 07:04:32 -0700
    Sometimes when people have data that I don’t have, particularly folks who are known to put out good information and valid data, I think to myself “self, where could they have gotten that data” and then go and get it for myself. 

    Like, in this case, if I had a question where the Vice Mayor of the City of Alameda received crime data, I would go and ask the City for it. Starting with the City Clerk.

    But that’s just me.
  • Richard Thomas
    commented 2020-10-24 09:25:02 -0700
    John, that’s why I asked for your data source, because the site I used only reported through 2019. As I explained in my comment, I filled the data in between the end of 2019 and what you provided in your chart. Would you please send me your source data? That’s what I’m trying to get to make my spreadsheet more accurate, as I said earlier.
  • John Knox White (Alameda Vice Mayor)
    commented 2020-10-24 08:56:14 -0700
    Hi Richard, Looking at your data, I don’t think it is aligned with what the City of Alameda has posted on their website for 2020. For instance, you list 241 Part 1 crimes for January 2020, but the City’s report shows 222 ( Similarly, all 2020 months are off from the official reports. I’m not sure where you pulled your data from, that seems like the likely discrepancy. I’ve confirmed that the above charts are consistent with the City’s data.
  • Richard Thomas
    commented 2020-10-24 07:58:07 -0700
    Sorry, the link I posted might have security settings. Here’s a link to my data that everyone should be able to access:
  • Richard Thomas
    commented 2020-10-24 06:08:48 -0700
    Hi John, I’ve found several discrepancies with your charts that I’d love to discuss with you. The data that I have (which I pulled from the APD crime stats page) seem unambiguously to say that Part 1 crime in Alameda is on the rise on an annual (rolling 12 month) basis. I’ve made a chart of it here:

    I’m not sure where you got your 2020 data, so I’ve eyeballed it in my data by looking at your charts posted above. I had to fill some in using average values as well, so I’d love to get your raw data to improve my chart’s fidelity.
  • John Knox White (Alameda Vice Mayor)
    published this page in JKW Blog 2020-10-18 15:47:14 -0700