The FBI released its annual “Crime in the United States” report last week, and it showed that violent crime (murders, rapes, assaults and robberies) fell more than 4% nationally from 2012 to 2013, continuing a decades-long decline. The headline that a few local news agencies picked up on was the shock that our little city was second amongst the top 10 in violent crime. This might be startling for newer residents but they might be surprised to know that this figure is actually down from 2012 when we were ranked No. 1!
Data Source: SFGate.com
What the numbers don’t tell is the nature of the crimes, how our abundant retail, our density, and our proximity to our neighbor who is first on this notorious list appear to influence this. In fact “Population density and degree of urbanization” is listed amongst the Pitfalls of Ranking by the FBI (Something KPIX fails to mention in their “report”). “To characterize Emeryville as an unsafe city would be an unfair characterization” noted EPD Sergeant Fred Dauer in the above video segment by reporter Da Lin.
Emeryville’s 12.67 violent crimes per 1000 residents (roughly 3 times the state average) was achieved by dividing the 132 violent crimes reported last year by our 10,415 population. Emeryville is a bit of a statistical anomaly as our population of barely 10,000 more than quadruples during the day to accommodate a workforce, hotel, education and retail-fueled population surge. What was more interesting to me was that of the 729 suspects that were arrested, a startling 67% were Oakland residents. Our speculation that retail appears to be a magnet for criminals (something I wondered out loud when I asked “Does retail make Emeryville a Target for criminals?” in this 2012 post) appears to be supported by these numbers. “The article failed to mention that our violent crimes decreased 25% compared to 2012, and we had zero homicides for 2013. In fact, overall crime is down for agencies across the state.” Noted EPD crime analyst Adrienne Robinson. “Our current issue is auto burglaries, not violent crimes” she added.
Emeryville’s crime statistics compared to last year:
Percentage Change for Crime Rate: -24%
A few things that impact our crime rate according to the EPD:
- Assaults are counted per victim. Therefore, one crime report with three victims will result in three assaults.
- Small population has a huge impact on our crime rate. If we could use our daytime population of 40,000, our rate would be around 3.3 per 1000 residents (lower than the national average of 3.93).
- Robberies include several combative shoplifters who fight against security and/or store personnel to flee with the loss. In most cases, EPD arrests the shoplifter. (A simple shoplift can easily turn into a robbery. The elements of robbery are taking something by force or fear.)
In response to these media reports, Crime Analyst Adrienne Robinson issued the following statement: “Our city is safe. We have an average response time of 2 minutes for 911 calls and 6 minutes for non-emergency calls. It is a great service to the community, to call our department and reach a live person versus reaching a voice message directing citizens to listen to the prompts for services. There is nothing wrong with listening to prompts for services, however for Emeryville, it signifies that our calls for service are still at a level in which the public will reach a live person, and obtain services sooner”.
The 2013 FBI Report and additional Reading:
The 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report
What are the Bay Area’s 10 safest — and most dangerous — communities? | SFGate.com
Reality Check: Is Oakland Really the Most Crime-Ridden City in California? | NBCBayArea.com
How crimes are categorized can have a major impact on a city’s crime rate | Nola.com