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Some More Analysis of FBI Crime Data

It seems intuitive from our personal experiences in the Bay area that higher density and higher urbanization will bring more crime to Alameda. The FBI, in the forward to their 2007 Crime in the U.S. report lists density and degree of urbanization as one of the factors that influence type and volume of crime. But what do the numbers look like?

We took the density calculations we performed for San Francisco and Alameda County cities previously, and folded that into data on violent crimes and property crimes from the FBI crime report. We ranked the cities by density, as measured by number of residents per square mile of land area, and performed a correlation between density and crimes.

Oakland and Emeryville were outliers with a stratospheric 192 and 124 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2007. We excluded Oakland from the correlation study because the city seems to be such a special case of high criminal activity. We decided to exclude Emeryville as well because we suspect a spillover effect of crime from Oakland to its immediate flatland neighbor.

Here is the table below, which shows a correlation between population density and both the absolute number of crimes, and the number of crimes per 10,000 residents.

All of the cities in the table are within the same metropolitan area and share the same basic geography and climate. With the exception of San Francisco, all cities listed are within Alameda County and fall under the same regional (county) administration. They are all within commuting distance of the same central city, San Francisco.

We also tried to gauge relative law enforcement strength for each of the cities. The chart below shows law enforcement strength as measured by the number of sworn officers per 10,000 residents. Again, this is from the FBI’s crime report. (Data for Dublin, California, was not included in the report.)

Emeryville and San Francisco have a significant number of sworn officers relative to population – much higher than the median of 14. But for the rest of the East Bay cities, they all had roughly 10 to 20 officers per 10,000 people. (A standard deviation of 3.) When we re-ran the correlation study against all the cities except Emeryville and San Francisco, we found the positive correlation between crime and density was even higher – the correlation between density and Total Crimes per 10,000 People jumped from 62% to 66%

It sure looks like, for these East Bay Alameda County cities and San Francisco, there is a positive correlation between density/urbanization and crime. We would do well to keep this in mind when folks try to sell us on high-density, urban developments.


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