Santa Ana Crime Stats and the Pols Who Distort Them

As a resident of Santa Ana, I have heard the now-familiar refrain that crime is down 32% since 2006. Gee, that actually sounds impressive. But I’ve lived in Washington, DC, and New York City when politicians crowed about decreases in crime. Their observations usually had some basis in reality.

So, today I see this article in the Register.  In it, writer Doug Irving cites the following and it makes sense. And it totally blows the political establishment’s claims clear out of the water.

“Ballot statements from Pulido and Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez claim that crime has dropped 32 percent in Santa Ana since 2006.

“Crime reports provided by the Police Department show that major crime dropped more than 12 percent between 2005 and 2006; about 8 percent between 2006 and 2007; and about 12 percent in the first six months of this year. The Police Department added together those numbers to arrive at the 32 percent drop cited by the two council members.

“But an apples-to-apples comparison of the first seven months of 2008 with the first seven months of 2006 shows that crime has not dropped nearly so steeply. The Police Department counted 6,003 crimes between January and July of this year, and 7,224 between January and July of 2006. That’s a decrease of just under 17 percent.”


Hmm…17 or 32. These elected officials must have studied the “new math” because by my “old math” reckoning, that’s a discrepancy by a factor of nearly two. Please, could either of you explain or elaborate?

Sadly, as the article continues,

“The overall crime statistics also obscure increases in specific categories of crimes. While auto thefts, petty thefts and aggravated assaults are down sharply this year, for example, burglaries and rapes have increased. Fifteen people were killed in homicides between January and July; last year at this time, there had been only 11.

“That puts the city on pace for its deadliest year since at least 2006, police statistics show. But Police Chief Paul Walters cautioned that the homicide statistics are still small enough that percentage changes can be deceiving. “We don’t want to project into the future,” he said.”

Having lived, now, in Santa Ana for not quite 3 years, my purely unscientific observation is that my city’s nasty reputation is worse than it deserves, even with all this. My understanding is that the reputation was at one time well-deserved, but not so much any more. We certainly are not without problems — significant problems (and not just crime) — as the Register’s article shows. But if we are to solve or even mitigate them, we need some level of honesty and accuracy from our elected officials. Yes, yes, I know: Pie in the sky, Pollyanna. But this kind of distortion by Pulido and Alvarez is just plain wrong, even for a politician.


  1. Bill,

    Well said. I was on the phone with Councilwoman Michele Martinez when a young man on a bike tore her purse off her arm while she was walking to a meeting in the downtown area.

    What other city do you know of where a local politician is robbed in this fashion?

    The only other one that comes to mind is Oakland, where State Senator Don Perata was carjacked some months ago.

    Great. Santa Ana is on a par with Oakland. Not good!

  2. Santa Ana crime “on par” with Oakland? Not quite;

    In 2006, Oakland had 7,599 violent crimes. That’s 1,905 per 100,000 people. In 2006, Santa Ana had 1,998 violent crimes. That’s 581 per 100,000 people.

    I’d hardly call that “on par” with Oakland.

  3. I just wanted to clarify that the 17% figure is correct. Its a percentage change calculated as:

    (current year-former year)/former year

    In this case:

    (6003-7224)/7224 or (-1221)/7224 = -.169 or a 17% reduction from former year to current year

    This percentage change figure is a standard. Its used everywhere all the time and is not fuzzy or weird math.

  4. from wikipedia:
    Over the years crime has risen over the city. The violent crimes, murders, and robberies are higher than the national average. Of all the murders in Orange County, more than half occur in Santa Ana. The city has been plagued with gangs and graffiti. Many compare this city to Los Angeles because of its overall crime rate. Most of this crime is said to be attributed to the immense poverty in the city and the number of youths joining gangs due to the fact that only 60% of students graduate high school.

    that is what people see and think about our city. ive lived in Santa Ana for 30 years. During the Clinton years, there were huge sweeps that rid the city of many bad apples. If you tell someone you live in Santa Ana, they picture what wiki, and then you explain it isnt a bad place to live other then bad roads, bad politicians, and a city budget paying individuals too much in salary.

    im a realist, auto theft is high, assaults are high and the city needs stricter code enforcement in areas that are not in “the nicer parts”. everyone needs to be held accountable. the problem is workers only go into areas where they are not scared to knock on a door. whey are they scared? some is myth, some is fact. no reason one can not leave a citation or notice about cars, landscaping or something else.

    i’d hire some large individuals to give out citations, one’s who are not intimidated to enforce city bylaws. we should also give preference to santa ana citizens for over inflated city jobs. people take the money and run to spend it in their cities. their needs to be a cut in salaries across the board; the money then needs to be put into education and the streets. Are school system SUCKS!!! My cousin is a teacher in Santa Ana, and have had to go in myself to help her move things, put things together. I dont blame the worker there, since there is only one full time maintenance person and one part time person. It is ridiculous. Don’t get me started on the lack of technology.

    You have to give Miguel a break, he graduated from engineering school many many many years ago. Since my engineering degree came after his, I’ll concur with the 17% calculation. Miguel and Michele used “convenient math”. It is a common mathematical system employed by politicians and individuals trying to sell a flawed product.

    so we have:
    one candidate who has been in office too long, but with a lot of clout in the city, a huge network and money interests everywhere.

    one candidate who doesn’t have a background other then he films stuff around the world. gee that sounds great, if i wanted someone to film “how to overpay employees”, “how to extend term limits and get away with it”, or maybe ” i got this job and it came with a new camera”

    another candidate who’s posted resume is pretty weak. a lot of fluff to make it seem as though her credentials are good enough to understand the city finances. she did program telephones and went through a taxing criminal justice programming.

    im being a bit sarcastic, but only to reflect how sad it is we can not get some seriously qualified candidates other then the person who has been in office since mid 90’s. that is crazy. if i had more time, this rant/information session would go for 10 pages.

  5. I am not sure why you target SA in this post. The truth is that crime is down here and that is in spite of having the same number of officers now as we had 25 years (and a lot less people) ago. Crime is becoming more prevalent everywhere and a lot has to do with the economy. The economy goes bad and people become more desperate. More robberies, burglaries and violent crimes occur. All of the large cities are experiencing it. The economy has a lot to do with current hiring freezes, too. And not only in SA–everywhere. Toss in that criminals get coddled by the system and there is no real deterrent to them committing crimes over and over again. Art’s blog constantly criticizes SAPD and I would post there but my IP address has been blocked for defending the police and other points of view that shed light on Art’s lies.

  6. The reason Santa Ana is singled out in the post is because there are several city councilmembers and a mayor running for re-election with a campaign cornerstone about crime being down. Every time they brag about crime being on the decline I am reminded of two cliches. Figures can lie and liars can figure. There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

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