Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Texas crime data available, but what do they capture?

Both violent and property crimes are declining nationwide, reports the Justice Department, though in Texas' city by city numbers (below) one finds a more mixed result.

I never quite know what to make of raw, aggregate reported crime stats. One's gut instinct is to tally them up to determine whether crime is "increasing" or "decreasing," but there are so many variables to consider when deciding if that's accurate. Did Dallas' crime stats decline because there is less crime, for example, because the new DA is doing a better job, or because police supervisors are under political pressure to report less crime? Such answers lie outside the confines of this report.

For that matter, how many offenses go unreported to the police? Do police comprehensively upload complaint data to the feds? (In Texas, often not.) What is the clearance rate for the crimes reported last year? Without such details, it's hard to tell what conclusions can be drawn from this data, particularly when the aggregate changes, both upward and downward, have been fairly small on the margins in recent years. In any event, I thought I'd at least share the data with y'all, FWIW:


Pinkycatcher said...

Wow, here in my home town (Fort Worth) crime has massively decreased, 50-60-70% drop from 2006 to 2007, maybe it's right, but I don't know, as far as crimes go maybe 2006 was a horrible year, but I haven't noticed any change. That seems really interesting, thanks for posting this

Anonymous said...

Does more crime against aliens go unreported when fears of deportation rise?

Yes we can!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

2:06, that's exactly the kind of glitch in the data that makes me wonder about whether it's possible to draw overall conclusions. There's absolutely no doubt that happens.

To add to your observation, in other instances, witnesses fail to come forward because they fear outing their immigration status. Our immigration laws create a lot of crime underreporting.

And I have no explanation about the Fort Worth numbers - that kind of thing is one of the reasons the post is a little milquetoast - I don't quite know what to make of it. Doesn't sound right, does it?

This might be the most eagerly awaited report USDOJ does every year (by the media, at least), but to me it always seems like one of the most anticlimactic. I never know what to make of it, good or bad.

Anonymous said...

Austin is worse in every category this year.

Anonymous said...

Where is Tyler on this graph? We have 100K reported census, so we are bigger than Wichita Falls on the scale.

Perhaps there is a population cut-off.