Monday, May 21, 2007

Crime and Perceptions

My fellow blogger over at Off Seventh responded to my previous post about crime statistics by asking about our neighboring PSA 307 (basically the Logan Circle area between L and S and 9th and 15th). [PSA 308 is bounded by 9th and NJ and by NY and S/Florida]. So I downloaded the stats for 307 for the same date range: Feb. 1- May 19, and what I found may surprise you.

First of all, there were more than twice as many crimes reported in 307 as in 308: 248 vs. 106. Here are the numbers:

Crime PSA307 PSA308

ADW 14 7

Burglary 38 10

Homicide 1 0

Robbery 23 18

Stolen cars 15 22

Theft 65 19

Theft from auto 92 28

Sex Abuse 0 2

Total 248 106

Clearly the biggest difference is in thetheft andtheft from auto categories. I suspect this stems from the fact that 307 has many more restaurants, bars, etc. that attract non-residents who may be less careful about keeping valuables out of sight in their cars and also that there are more commercial establishments that may be attractive to thieves.

But even allowing for that, in the violent crimes category, Logan (PSA307) actually appears worse than Shaw (PSA308), when you look at the numbers. This, by the way, isnt just a fluke; I had previously looked at the data from last year, which showed similar results.

The odd thing is that if you asked a random set of residents which area issafer, Id bet that most people would say Logan. So why is that?

Here are my theories (in no particular order):

  • Random gunfire and drive-by shootings. There are, unfortunately, way too many of these in Shaw, and most of it doesnt show up in the crime stats. You dont often hear about this kind of stuff in Logan nowadays. Having shootings in public areasoften in broad daylight, sometimes in sight of policecreates a lot of anxiety because who knows when some stray bullet might find you?
  • Known gang activity and visible drug dealing. By now most people are aware that the shootings are almost entirely linked to beefs between local gangs, and we see the graffiti evidence of their presence on walls, sidewalks, and trees all over the area. Also, Id wager that most Shaw residents could point out addresses where they know or suspect that drugs are being dealt on a regular basis. The drug activity is probably true in Logan as well (I just dont know how prevalent it is), but you dont hear much about gangs in that area.
  • General appearance. By now, Logan is pretty thoroughly tarted upShaw a lot less so. There are many more derelict properties, more trash in the streetsjust the sort of things that can create a subliminal sense of apprehension.

  • Racial perceptions. Logan is whiter, andlets be frank heremany people associate white neighborhoods with beingsafe. Never mind that black people dont like crime any more than white people do.

But in reality, are you actually more at risk from crime in Shaw than in Logan? Is it possible that it’s really just the opposite?


At 5/21/2007 8:04 PM, Blogger si said...

these are the stats they use when assigning officers to the PSAs. as a result, PSA 308 still has the minimum of 21 officers (all of those extra cops are temporarily redeployed & constantly get shuffled) but there are a few things missing on that list - vice related crimes: drugs, prostitution...they never release those stats. And yes the calls for service do get tracked but they dont usually give that out unless asked. we may have had 7 ADWs but probably 4 or 5x as many calls for gunfire. maybe more.

At 5/21/2007 8:23 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for the information. I appreciate your putting it together.

Just FYI, I'm a different Brian from Off Seventh.

At 5/21/2007 8:29 PM, Anonymous Cary said...

Having lived 5 years in Logan and now 3 here, my perception is that random violent crime (muggings, attacks) are no more frequent here (maybe less so) than in Logan. What is troubling here in Shaw/Mt. Vernon are the shootings and gang activity. A shooting incident happened maybe twice in the five years I lived in Logan, that I am aware of. Now, over here, the last time I heard gunfire was last night, 2:15am. Ever other concern goes out the window when you have to worry about a stray bullet. Oh, and drug dealing -- it's been a whole 4 hours since I saw that going on. Crime stats can also be misleading because they are based on reported incidents, not calls for service. Higher stats in Logan could show that people are more likely to report crime (or that police are more responsive in taking reports).

At 5/22/2007 4:39 AM, Anonymous rr 446 said...

exactly cary...i will repeat the last part of your message:

"Higher stats in Logan could show that people are more likely to report crime (or that police are more responsive in taking reports"

fewer crimes are reported in crime are statistically lower.

At 5/22/2007 8:26 AM, Blogger ed said...

I live on the border of Shaw and Logan on 10th between L and M for a number of years. The number of thefts from auto, burglaries and robberies is outrageous. It is not because of restaurants or bars or unwitting nonresidents. What I have noticed is that as this neighborhood has become more populated (tons of new condos), crime has increased. There are simply more victims here. Everyone in my building who owns a car has had it broken into. The 900 block of L st has the most thefts of any block in the city. The thefts from auto are mostly vagrants from the downtown homeless shelters. The robberies and burglaries are committed by mostly people from outside the area. The criminals then take the goods to known local drug houses. One stop shopping.

Shaw has a bigger problem with drug/gang violence. Shootings make the news so everyone associates Shaw with crime. But statistically you are safer in Shaw than Logan, unless of course, you are a drug dealer or gang member.

I believe more people need to report crime and suspicious activity. Call 911 or 311. Press DC to do something about vacant properties. Force the judicial system to take crime seriously. The US attorney will only prosecute thefts from auto as misdemeanors (with little chance of jail time) instead of felonies! Get rid of the users and the dealers (and their violence) will have to move on.

It can be done. They did it in New York. It is time put Broken Windows to work in DC.

At 5/22/2007 12:41 PM, Blogger joeb said... did they do it in NY? and what does your reference to "Broken Windows" mean?

At 5/23/2007 7:18 AM, Blogger Taylor said...

what we need to do is enforce (or create) vagrancy, panhandling, and loitering laws. I am sick to death of having to dodge beggars and bums around every corner of my neighborhood (14th btwn Thomas Circle and P St) and be harrassed half of the times that i walk in and out of 7-11 for change by the "doorman" ... lol. either institutionalize these crazies or lock 'em up!

oddly enough i've parked my car on the street for 2.5 yrs and have never had it broken into ... knock on wood!

At 5/23/2007 9:15 AM, Blogger ed said...

joeb... There is info about Broken Windows on my blog

I agree with Taylor. People who can not take care of themselves (mental problems) should not be on the street. The rest should be in rehab or in jail.

At 5/23/2007 9:18 AM, Blogger si said...

"broken windows"

At 5/23/2007 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

taylor and ed, your sentiments on the homeless are unnerving. where is your compassion? these are human beings who deserve sympathy. please consider volunteering with at a shelter or soup kitchen. i guareenteed you will not pass such harsh judgements after you have actually gotten to know the people you think so little of now and their stories.

At 5/23/2007 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In refrence to the minor crime problem, such as panhandling etc.I do believe in the broken windows theory. However most of the police don't enforce such laws. You should email the cheif, the more pressure on her the better for the residnets. Tell her that you want increased productivity, in dealing with such crimes.

At 5/23/2007 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed that i didn't spell chief correctly. sorry

At 5/24/2007 6:17 AM, Blogger mikelicht said...

Do not give money to beggars. Do not let your neighbors give money to beggars. Beggars use your money for alcohol and drugs. Do not enable them. They may not stop begging or using drugs and alcohol, but they will go elsewhere.

At 5/24/2007 6:20 AM, Anonymous kate said...

I'll be moving to DC in the fall and have been investigating the District's home ownership programs. Has anyone used any of them to buy a property, particularly one in tax default status? I am interested in possibly purchasing an abandoned rowhome to renovate as my primary residence in the Shaw/Mt. Vernon/U Street area. When I previously lived in DC I rented in the area and am familiar with the neighborhood's drawbacks.

At 5/24/2007 6:36 AM, Blogger si said...

welcome kate. Id say try NACA. tax sale is not an easy way to get a home, usually people pay the debt off or there are major title issues. its really for those with the time & means to deal with it. NACA is definitely legit & a good resource for the first time buyer.

At 5/24/2007 8:19 AM, Anonymous Jake said...

I think another factor is that, for a variety of reasons, residents and visitors to Logan are more likely to report crimes when they occur. I suspect the overall level of criminal activity is relatively similar.

At 5/24/2007 8:46 AM, Blogger si said...

I know PSA 307 is a bit bigger but i wonder how the actual population compares?

At 5/24/2007 7:55 PM, Anonymous Cary said...

PSA 307 is roughly the same boundaries as ANC 2F. PSA 308 is roughly the same boundaries as ANC 2C. Going by # of ANC Commissioners and also remembering the pop. in 2000 for ANC 2F was actually about 2,300 per district rather than 2000), my estimation is that there are today (considering growth in both areas, but more in Logan), approximately 15,000 to 17,000 people in PSA 307 and 9,000 to 10,000 people in PSA 308.

At 11/21/2007 5:39 AM, Anonymous new house washington dc said...

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