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.