Crime confusion in SE Seattle

“Crime Is Actually Down in Southeast Seattle” said a headline in the Stranger Slog yesterday. Jonah Spangenthal-Lee’s post lists SPD statistics that supposedly back that up. Is it just me, though, or is the math completely off here? Here’s what the article currently says (emphasis added is mine):

“According to SPD records for the South Precinct—which covers everything between Georgetown and Lake Washington south if I-90—as of the end of September, there have been 821 assaults—including 401 shootings—193 strong-arm robberies, 120 burglaries and 9 murders.

“Last year, there were 1,214 assaults, 202 strong-arm robberies, 955 burglaries and 7 murders (statistics on shootings aren’t available) in the South Precinct. That’s 400 fewer assaults, and 800 fewer burglaries.

“In 2006 there were 1,388 assaults, 232 strong-arm robberies, 1218 burglaries and 6 murders.”

Comparing “as of the end of September” totals with whole-year totals and then claiming the numbers are lower is not particularly useful. Of course the numbers could be lower; there were still three months left in 2008!

But here’s the rub — the numbers aren’t even necessarily lower. When you do the math and consider that the totals for this year only include 9 months, some of the numbers are lower, but others are not. We are on track for 1095 assaults this year, so, yes, that’s a downward trend. Good. But we are also on track for 257 strong-arm robberies, a substantial increase. Burglaries are down, but they are down so far that I suspect something is glitchy with the numbers there. You don’t go 1218 to 955 to 120 without a darn good explanation. If they are down that far, that’s great — but I don’t believe it.

And then you get to the murder stats. As of the end of September, we were on track for 12 murders this year. 12. That is twice the number of murders in 2006, and nearly twice the number in 2007. This is not what I would call a drop in crime.

Over at the Mid Beacon Hill blog, JvA has done a great job of reporting that the city’s crime stats are often, well, wrong. And then on November 2, the P-I published a story claiming that, according to the King County Medical Examiner, there were no shooting homicides in Seattle between April and October, which is demonstrably false.

So then we get to this week. Multiple shots were fired in the area of 5400 23rd Avenue South. Two kids shot in the Central District on Halloween, one killed. Then further shootings in the CD, in what the Central District News suggests has become a “gangland revenge free-for-all.”

So, do you really feel like crime is going down in Southeast Seattle, or not?

4 thoughts on “Crime confusion in SE Seattle”

  1. I keep expecting these papers to publish corrections after commenters and bloggers point out their errors, but they don’t.

    The latest Mid Beacon Hill shooting (plus drugs found but no arrests) depresses me so much I haven’t even been able to post about it. Way, way too close to home. Now that I have a baby, I wonder if it was irresponsible for me to have moved here in the first place. I think about moving a lot.

  2. Like JvA, I think about moving too. Then I remember my car was broken in to twice in Redmond and never here.

    I do wish the city would pull its head out of the sand and update these statistics.

  3. My thought mirror KT’s. I do think it’s really unfortunate that the city seems to be so off base on its crime statistics. It’s really unfortunate, and probably points to even greater problems in the way the city views the Southend.

    That said, since I’ve lived in the Seattle area, I’ve had two car stereos stolen, plus my car stolen, had my pocket picked, and my wife had her pocket picked, and we have a friend who’s had two home break-ins (one of which involved him being assaulted)… but none of these things happened on Beacon Hill. They occured (in order) in Greenwood, Queen Anne Hill, Capital Hill, Pioneer Square, Capital Hill, the Central District and Leshi.

    I guess that’s my cumbersome way of saying that bad things happen all over Seattle. Yes, it’s unfortunate that the city doesn’t have a proper understanding of the amount of crime that occurs on Beacon Hill. But, I’m also not sure that moving away is the right response.

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