It has been interesting lately to follow crime news in my little town of West Bend. Like many communities, the spread of heroin use is causing problems and causing great concern. Over the past year or so, many members of the community have started taking closer notice and talking about crimes in social media. Recently, a new community crime prevention organization, Concerned Citizens of West Bend, formed in an effort to respond to crimes in the community.
All of the added attention gives the perception that West Bend is experiencing a crime wave. Such is the impact of social media that even minor crimes that would have been glanced over in the police blotter in the newspaper are the subject of notice and commentary. The West Bend Police Department, in order to provide an accurate picture of the level of criminal activity in West Bend, has decided to post the city’s crime statistics every month. Here’s the first release:
The presentation needs a little work. It is unclear if “this year” and “last year” are YTD figures or full year figures, but I presume they are both YTD. What does the data tell us?
The numbers are so small that there’s a HUGE percentage impact for even a couple of more or fewer crimes in any category. But that is kid of the point. The numbers are small. Violent crime is up a little, but property crimes are down a bit. Theft is, by far, the largest single crime category and one that is heavily impacted by drug addiction as addicts seek out money to buy their poison of choice. It is down 13%.
Overall, the stats indicate that crime in West Bend this year is roughly stable from last year to this. It’s a good thing that crime is getting more attention from the community, but we shouldn’t confuse an increase of attention to crime with an increase of incidents of crime. West Bend is still a pretty safe place.
I’d be interested in seeing more longitudinal data over a longer period of time and comparing it to population and unemployment, but that’s just my curiosity getting the better of me.