Jean Quan doesn’t believe crime is up

For whatever reason, I’m not on the mailer list. I haven’t missed an election since I moved here, and I’m a registered Democrat, so I don’t know what the deal is there. But dto510 is on the list, and is always helpfully willing to share the ones he gets with me, so I get to see them anyway. In May, OakPac sent out a series of mailers criticizing Nancy Nadel’s record on crime and blight. One of these mailers featured a large picture on the front cover of a little girl rolling her eyes and sticking her fingers in her ears, as kids like to do when they don’t want to listen to you. I can’t remember the caption, but it was something like “Why does Nancy Nadel ignore our rising crime rate?” Hopefully it was more clever than that. And then it was accompanied by all these bar graphs showing how much crime has increased since the beginning of Nadel’s most recent term.

Anyway, I only bring this up because I couldn’t help but think about it as I watched Jean Quan sit there last night at the Public Safety Committee, desperately trying to explain away the dramatic violent crime spike we’ve experienced over the last several years. I’ve written about this before, but if you need a reminder, see the chart below illustrating the number of aggravated assaults reported in Oakland since 2003. The 2003-2006 numbers come from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and 2007 numbers come from OPD, available here (PDF!):

Jean Quan’s theory for this increase in assaults is that due to improved outreach, information, and police training regarding domestic violence, largely because of Measure Y efforts, people are reporting more domestic violence incidents, even though they haven’t actually increased. Okay. So, it is true that we have had a dramatic increase in domestic violence reports in the past few years (nearly doubling from 2003-2004 to 2006-2007). It’s also true that this is likely due to better reporting of domestic disputes, rather than a doubling in the actual number of domestic incidents. The City’s efforts to increase awareness of the domestic violence problem are commendable, and this is an area where they’ve actually done a really good job. Everyone involved should be proud.

Having said that, Quan is wrong, wrong, wrong about this. A small percentage of the domestic violence related reports we receive rise to the level of aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is an attack intended to inflict severe injury, and usually involves the use of a weapon. If you shoot someone, but they don’t die, that incident gets added to the aggravated assault totals. If my boyfriend punches me and I get a black eye and busted lip, that’s considered a simple assault. That doesn’t mean it isn’t terrible, but it does mean that the FBI doesn’t consider it a Part I crime.

Anyway, Quan went on and on last night (Seriously. At one point Larry Reid had to interrupt her to remind her that they had a long meeting ahead of them!) about how we need to be comparing “apples to apples” and that it only looks like we’ve had an increase in aggravated assaults because domestic violence assaults are getting lumped into the the totals, saying:

There’s an e-mail floating around on the community neighborhood listservs that said that violent crimes went up, tripled under Chief Tucker’s reign. My guess it that what they’re doing is that they’re counting domestic violence assaults.

Quan, in her desperate attempt to explain away rising crime, even managed to imply last night that the FBI was somehow at fault here for including domestic incidents in the totals.

Okay. Here are the facts. In 2006, we had 3,614 aggravated assaults reported in Oakland. Of those, 407 were domestic violence incidents. In 2007, we had 4,023 aggravated assaults reported in Oakland. Of those, 494 were domestic violence incidents. (And just for the record, right now we’re at 1,698 aggravated assaults for the year, 234 of which are domestic violence incidents, and both of which are 10% higher than last year’s year to date numbers.) You don’t have to be a genius or a statistician to look at those numbers and understand that we have an actual problem with rising violent crime and that it has nothing to do with better domestic violence reporting.

Last night, Jean Quan said:

We know that murders went up, but except for domestic violence, none of the other crimes seemed to go up that rapidly.

What the hell numbers is she looking at? Quan’s willful blindness to skyrocketing violent crime in Oakland is astonishing! It’s also demoralizing. How can we ever possibly hope to address serious problems facing the city when our leaders refuse to even acknowledge they exist?

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45 thoughts on “Jean Quan doesn’t believe crime is up

  1. Charles Pine

    Councilmember Quan has a history of denying crime in Oakland. For a start, see

    Incidentally, Rebecca Kaplan should fit right in. Commenting on campaign mailers for Hamill, Kaplan did not criticize Hamill for being a hypocrite on the issue. Instead, Kaplan said that while “you can legitimately be for law and order, this seemed to be a way to frighten people over the issue of crime and violence, and I think people resent being frightened.” (Berkeley Daily Planet, June 05, 2008)

  2. Robert

    The FBI’s Preliminary Annual Violent Crime report for 2007 does show a decrease in all categories of violent crime, including aggravated assults. The FBI report shows 3537 incidents of aggravated assult for 2007. See

    The numbers are still way too high, but the report does not indicate they are higher in 2007 compared to 2006.

  3. V Smoothe Post author

    The FBI’s preliminary 2007 report, is, as stated in the title, preliminary. Accurate totals for the full year of 2007 are available from OPD in this report (PDF!) Aggravated assaults increased from 3,614 incidents in 2006 to 4,023 in 2007, an alarming 11.32% increase. (And as noted above, we’re currently running about 10% higher in year to date reports compared to last year.) These numbers will be reflected in the final UCR when it is released later this year.

  4. Robert

    Well, you did site the ucr as your source for your data for 2007. If you want to site the OPD report for both 2006 and 2007, thats fine. Although I don’t know the basis for your assertion that the OPD data will be what ends up in the FBI report.

    Be that as it may, even the OPD report does not support the claim that violent crime in Oakland increased in 2007. The numbers show an actual decrease of 1.4%. Not large, but not an increase either. Picking one category where the incidence increased by 11% is misleading. We could just as easily say that homicides went down by 17%. If you want to bash Quan for not being tough on crime, lets at least give a fair representation of the facts, and this time it looks like Quan was right – óverall violent cri\me did decrease in Oakland in 2007.’

  5. V Smoothe Post author

    Robert –

    I’ve updated the post to reflect that 2003-2006 numbers come from the UCR, and that 2007 figures come from OPD’s year-end totals. The Uniform Crime Report is an aggregation of data reported by local law enforcement agencies, so OPD’s numbers are the numbers that go into the final report.

    I don’t understand why you say it’s misleading for me to discuss assaults or suggest it wasn’t a fair representation of the facts, since the increase in assaults, not any other crimes, was the sole subject of the discussion I’m writing about. Quan asserted repeatedly at last night’s meeting that there has not been a real increase in assaults, only an increase in reporting of domestic violence related assaults. This is patently untrue, and I find her head in the sand attitude alarming.

  6. V Smoothe Post author

    In any case, the report I cited does, in fact, show that violent crime increased in Oakland from 2006 to 2007. Those offenses categorized as “violent crimes” (versus “property crimes”) by the FBI – murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, rose from 7,599 incidents in 2006 to 7,900 incidents in 2007, and increase of nearly 4%. It is further disturbing that these numbers are continuing to rise – as of June 9th (XLS!), we had 3,613 reported violent crimes for 2008, compared to 3,492 on the same date in 2007, an increase of 3.5%.

  7. Max Allstadt


    I moved to Oakland, 24th and Peralta, in 2004. I quickly got to know a fairly large group of people. Not until about two years ago did friends start telling me about being held at gunpoint, beaten and robbed, or the like. And I recall an awful lot of that over the past two years.

    Here’s my crime experience in Oakland.

    I had a neighbor murdered and burned in her bed, she was 87.
    My friend had his bar held up by two guys with guns.
    The same shotgun that killed Chauncey Bailey killed the same friend’s co-worker.
    A girl I dated has been robbed and beaten twice.
    A couple I know has been robbed at gunpoint twice.
    I’ve had 3 friends have their car stolen. One had the same car taken twice.
    My neighbor was robbed at gunpoint and pistol whipped.
    Friends were beaten up in the Lower Bottoms, just for fun.
    There are heroin dealers a block away from my house every day.
    If I drive down San Pablo after dark, I can usually count at least 4 prostitutes.

    I lived in Brooklyn and Boston before moving here. In my nine years on the east coast, I remember maybe two muggings of friends. That’s it.

    The street vice doesn’t offer a good comparison, ’cause I lived in better neighborhoods most of the time back east. That said, the violent crime I hear about from friends in the east bay is mainly in nicer areas. Why rob poor people?

  8. Robert

    Max -

    I totally agree that the crime rate in Oakland is appalling. And if we want to look at the increase in crime between 2005 and 2007, that is appalling also.

    V -

    Misleading? “Jean Quan doesn’t believe crime is up”, and then the post talks mostly about aggravated assault. the headline is not “aggravated assault” or “violent crime”, but overall “crime”.

    Towards the end of your post “Last night, Jean Quan said: ‘We know that murders went up, but except for domestic violence, none of the other crimes seemed to go up that rapidly.’” (And actually, according to your data, murders actually went down also.) To focus on a single aspect of violent crime seems to me to be misleading. For example, if you remove the domestic violence category, then violent crime went up about 3% from 2006 to 2007. Unfortunate – surely – but a drastic spike, I don’t think so. And perhaps not very surprising given the slumping economy. Domestic violence went up 21% by comparison.

    All I am saying is that if you want to critize Quan for her opinions about the crime rate. keep it to where the facts clearly support your argument, e.g. the increase in total crime over the last 2 or 3 years, or the unacceptable rate compared to other cities. Lets not focus on a small increase year to year from 2006 to 2007. To do otherwise risks your credibility, and I respect your blogging too much for that.

  9. V Smoothe

    Robert –

    Again, I’m writing about a discussion at last night’s Public Safety Committee meeting in which Quan was commenting solely on the number of reported aggravated assaults. Therefore, I limited my discussion to data about aggravated assaults. This is the third time I’ve explained this. I really just don’t understand why you find this confusing.

    How is it “misleading” to question and correct Quan’s comments on the specific subject she was talking about? And honestly, I find it kind of disturbing that you would refer to an 11.32% increase in aggravated assaults, the crime in question, as “small,” especially when the same category is currently up another 10% over year-to-date numbers from last year.

  10. oakie


    Along with your litany of crimes you have personal contact with, you fail to mention that the electorate in our city re-elected every single member of the city council up for re-election, including Nancy Nadel who refuses to call people criminals (they are ‘law challenged individuals’) and Brunner, who won by a whopping 73% support. From having worked in the campaign and talked to an awful lot of people in Oakland about crime, I can tell you there are many people–a clear majority from the vote–don’t want to do anything to stop crime different than the solutions we have been using for the last 15 years. I talked till I was blue in the face about how New York REDUCED their crime by 80% in the time we have had violent crime INCREASE by 50%. They either created their own “facts” (like it was Dinkins who did it with community policing, totally untrue) or simply refused to be interested in how they did it. It’s not a secret. New York had a ‘can do’ spirit that took on the responsibility of citizens who did not want things to be the way they were in 1994. And they made it happen. Here in Oakland, we think this level of crime is normal. And, of course, we in Oakland are superior and know better. When I moved here 30 years ago next month, i could not imagine I would be envious of New York or of New Yorkers. Well, have times changed…..

    So why are you complaining about the crime? The voters here are not interesting in change.

  11. Max Allstadt

    oakie -

    we had 25% turnout. That means that when Nancy Nadel got 51% of the vote, she actually only had active support from 12.25% of the people in her district. It isn’t poor choices in leadership. It’s voter apathy.

    And I actually don’t think that apathy is all that overwhelming on crime. The safe streets petition is going to get enough signatures for a ballot measure, for instance.

    V- are you still against safe streets? Sean backed it, no?

  12. avis

    My husband and I watched this same Public Safety meeting and found it stunning the way Jean Quan repeatedly denied reality, but then she has a record of turning a blind eye to crime in Oakland. At my house we have called her Public Enemy #1 for many years now. I do not understand why this woman is so hell bent on denying the huge problem of crime in our ciy. Ignoring it hasn’t made it go away so far. It is so dis-heartening that these same ineffective people keep getting re-elected over and over again.

  13. oaklandhappenings

    This is a bit off topic, but I am just curious– before yesterday’s San Pablo Ave slaying, Oakland had experienced a homicide DROUGHT for the end of May and first 1/3rd of June (woo-hoo!). Does anyone know if non-fatal violent crime overall was low(er) during that same 2 week period? I know that 2 weeks can not act as a barometer for the entire first half of the year by any means. However, I am just wondering if anyone knows: aggravated assaults down? robberies?
    As for Quan, she has more than worn out her welcome on the city council and public safety committee. She, and Nadel are ignorant and naïve about what is going on with Oakland crime

  14. V Smoothe Post author

    oaklandhappenings –

    I can find that out for you, but I don’t have the data in front of me. I have, however, prepared a helpful chart comparing crime in 2007 to crime in 2008 so far this year. Violent crime is up, property crime is down, crime overall is basically flat.

  15. Max Allstadt

    oaklandhappenings -

    I think it’s dangerous to call Nadel ignorant about crime. It’s also inaccurate. She lives in Dogtown, it’s well nigh impossible for her to be ignorant. Besides, ignorance, in a way, would sort of be an excuse, no?

  16. EBW

    Rape is down 14.7% ? Must be because Ignacio’s son in jail – 1 more rapist off the streets.

  17. Deckin

    If I might chime in. What’s truly disturbing about Jean Quan is that she actually thinks she’s unusually intelligent and thoughtful and that the rest of us are in constant need of her erudition and enlightenment. That’s why she continues to drone on, even when it’s obvious no one is buying what she’s selling. An obvious problem with her comment about domestic violence and an increase in reporting is that it’s a completely unfalsifiable statement. These kinds of ‘it’s not crime that’s up, it’s reporting of crime’ are maddening because how could one possibly verify what the underlying rate has done in the absence of reported data? You could say the same thing anytime crime increases; and her opportunism in plugging her misguided succubus Measure Y is completely par for the course. As for Max: You better watch out–that kind of information just increases resentment and God knows resentment must be thwarted at all costs! Of course the kind of resentment that comes from having a gun stuck in your face is oppression. Pretty soon you’ll be clinging to guns and mistrusting people not like you.

  18. EBW

    It’s chilling that the felonies of the sons of both Dellums and delaFuente (murder and rape) aren’t on the radar screens of most people. Are we that numb to crime? Aman who doesn’t live in his own council district AND raised a son that admitted to raping preteen girls gets a free pass and walzes back into office.

    Is it any surprise that Measure “y” was watered down and poorly implemented?

  19. Max Allstadt

    EBW –

    Did Ron Dellums murder anybody? No. Did De La Fuente, Sr. rape anybody? No.

    We have a city in crisis, and instead of substantive criticism or thought, you’re showing up here and giving us 6 o’clock news style sensationalism. Distaste for such sensationalism is one of the key reasons people like V’s readers turn to the web instead of television.

    There are a thousand more important, more relevant reasons to praise or criticize Dellums and De La Fuente. The fact that you went for these two reasons, on this Blog, tells me two things:

    1. You have shallow priorities.
    2. You don’t know your audience.

  20. Chris Kidd


    You’re down with Cthulu, huh? I’m a Pastafarian myself.

    And there could be a bajillion reasons to oppose Dellums or DLF, but the actions of their children should rank somewhere around # 4,543,856. I’d be far more concerned with what they’re doing to my, uh, CITY.

  21. Robert

    EBW -

    As anyone who has actually raised children knows, while you have influence while they are growing, you do not truly control the outcome. And just as the child of a murderer can happen to turn out a wonderful person, so the child of a saint can end up a rapist. It is not fair to blame DLF or Dellums for the crimes of their children. Many of have had children, or parents, who have done things that should never have been done.

    V -

    I think that you and I are just not going to agree on how the numbers can be inrepreted, so I will say no more on that.

  22. Barry

    I’m with EBW. If my son grew up to be a rapist, the buck would stop with me and my wife.

    Dellums distanced himself from his son when he was convicted for murder, saying that it wasn’t his fault, his son was raised by his mother without his presence.

    That speaks volumes.

  23. Ralph

    i believe that was dellums stepson with whom he had no relationship. mark this as the one and only time i will come to the defense rip van dellums

  24. oaklandhappenings

    forgot to add, but if the homicide rate miraculously stays about as low as it has over the last two weeks through the next 4 weeks, that % will even out: last year in late June, there were 8 homicides over the last 4 days of the month, and 7 or 8 over the first two weeks of July.

  25. Sherry Oxling

    Max: “You don’t know your audience”. Hmm. Are you saying that this is a boy’s forum only? As a woman, I immediately felt uncomfortable about delaFuente when the news about his son raping teenagers came out. My discomfort that came from mix of compassion for the man and just basic fear that, frankly, most men just don’t get.

    So your comments to EBW I personally take to heart. Am I “shallow” to worry about the City Council watering down Measure “y” and not implement maintaining a fully staffed police force? A council led by Mr. delaFuente?


    And yes, I am full of mixed emotions about it all. Truth be told, I always liked the man and found him to be at least affable. And my own family tree has folks here and there with a very checkered past. Yet I know, from my own family experience, that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    And, yes I do see a correlation between our local politicians, their life experiences and their attitude about law enforcement.

    I submit this respectfully….as a member part of this as the blog “audience.”

  26. Max Allstadt

    Sherry -

    Presuming that I meant boys only is a huge stretch. I didn’t say that. This blog is run by a woman for pete’s sake. (Petra’s sake?)

    Implying that I’m less sensitive to the crimes of IDLF Jr. because I’m a man?
    – that bothers me. A lot.

    I’ve have several female friends who’ve been raped or sexually assaulted. My closest female friends feel able to approach and confide in me when something horrible like that happens. I’ve found myself both grieving and nauseous with rage when I heard about these things, but I usually tuck that emotion away and try to provide comfort. I am anything but ignorant on this issue, and these incidents I mention aren’t all in the distant past either.

    No, you’re not shallow to worry about Measure Y being watered down. But you are making a HUGE leap to presume that since De La Fuente’s son was convicted of rape, he’s now exercising his power to weaken the police and Measure Y. The Police like Ignacio, as best as I can tell. Didn’t their union endorse him?

    My point is that if we want to get action on Measure Y, talking about IDLF and Dellums’ sons does us no good. Talking about Measure Y does do some good.

    The reason I called EBW’s line of thought shallow is because it didn’t address any of the problems of the system. EBW put out a tabloid style attack that didn’t connect any dots. 6 O’clock news, at best. I stand by that. There are too many substantive issues about IDLF and Dellums to waste time on something that will get us no progress.

  27. Sherry Oxling

    Sherry: No offence meant — but its a common experience for men to compartmentalize this stuff. I DO connect the dots. BTW, Ignacio pissed off the cops by saying it was a conspiracy to get at HIM rather than to exercize some level of justice about his son. Pleeese don’t tell me they endorsed him…..sigh.

    It IS “substantive” to say this: there is a political culture in Oakland that accepts the mountain of crap that we all endure silently and pay with our tax dollars. Blatent lying, forgetting what it means to be a public servant, not sustaining an acceptable staffing level in the OPD for years and years — all that emminates from a political culture which is created from the heart and the ethical mindset of those sitting up on the dais.

    It is all related, my friend.


  28. Sherry Oxling

    Sorry — I meant “Max” — I am not in the habit of blogging to myself. ;o)

  29. Max Allstadt

    Sherry -

    IDLF went to the police after he made those comments, and explained himself in person.

    I think it’s forgivable for a father in such a situation to make statements based on his feelings that he knows probably aren’t really true. The trauma of having your son indicted must be crushing. Personally, I think the most ethical thing to do would have been to recant those statements in public. But it would have been difficult politically, and god-awful if not impossible on a personal level and for his family.

    Could you imagine being as high-profile as IDLF, and making a public retraction saying that the police investigation and indictment of your own son for rape was fair and just? Imagine the consequences of that for the rest of his family. Imagine how a father would be torn between his loyalty to his own son, and the rule of law. It’s horribly horribly complicated. What would you do in that situation? Me – I can’t imagine it.

    The fact that he went to the cops after he said what he said might be seen as politically wise. It also might be seen as not the rightest thing to do, but the best thing that he could actually follow through with. I would guess the truth is that it was a little of both.

    Politicians are humans with families and lives and loves and shames, just like the rest of us. We have a tendency to see them as monolithic characters, or as effigies, or symbols. It is always much much more complicated. That’s why I prefer to focus on their official acts and policies, their official failures and successes.

  30. Chris Kidd

    I think that throwing everything on the “Oakland political culture” pile is really counterproductive. It’s just a way of lumping everything that goes wrong all together without analyzing the problems themselves and how they came to be. It also unnecessarily builds up the problems we have had into an unassailable monolith. Let’s deconstruct, look at each individual problem, and assign blame where blame is due. **btw, this might seem hyper-critical and possibly mean, but I’m not trying to be. I just can’t seem to express my point in a less aggressive manner. My apologies if it seems rude**

    Instead of lumping in our police staff shortage with the habits of politicians, I think it’s much more useful to look at: the hiring freeze under JB, the shutting down of the jail, the beefing up of IA because of the settlement for the Riders case, the use of badged officers for desk work, the old dysfunctional shift system that led to way too much overtime. Now, plumbing the depths of each of those issues and how they led to our current staffing crisis may be much more time consuming(heck, I don’t have that kind of time), but I think they’re more beneficial in the long run.

  31. Sherry Oxling

    Max — I didn’t know about the after-story. Thank you. I agree with you it is HUGELY complicated. What would I do, you ask? Well (she takes a deep breathe before typing) I wouldn’t raise my son to be a rapist to begin. That said, I admire your compassion, Max. I realize compassion in this situation, is something that I don’t have to give — which is more my issue than Ignacio’s.

    Chris Kidd — yup. All those issues should be tackled one by one — but who has room in their life to to do that — who out there has the time or power or the economic freedom — to be an outside a consultant/policy analyst — for free?

    Chris, that is what I pay taxes for. I reckon the best thing I can do to effect change is to elect intelligent people with the highest standards of ethics to fix all thing you listed above and more.

    As for me — I am spent. Spent, discouraged and ….sad to say, devoid of hope.

  32. Chris Kidd

    Paying taxes isn’t enough. Voting isn’t enough.

    I Don’t mean to get all ‘inspiriational poster’ on you, but you gotta be the change you want to see(can’t you just imagine that under a picture of Half Dome, or an overhead shot of people rowing a crew shell or something else lame like that?)

    Things like engaging in discussions like these, attending city council meetings, calling your councilmember, organizing and informing your community: THAT is democracy in action. Government is there for the seizing, you just need to stick out your hands.

    I respect that some people just aren’t inclined to do that. But since you’re posting here, I’m guessing you’re not from that crowd.

    P.S. Big ups to you for becoming another voice in the discussion. I can only deal with so much Max a day. =P

  33. BMC

    sherry, have you not noticed that our host on this very own blog is doing exactly what your asking for, and yes, for free?

  34. Sherry Oxling

    When I said “spent” that refers to the void in my life that’s left after years community meetings, working on campaigns and speaking at City Council.

    Sadly, it’s just that… now , I have found myself in the position of having skipped over the stage of being cynical and have gone direclty to lacking hope. I drive west of Broadway and see vast acres of empty condos — some of them, incomplete, construction stopped, all shrink wrapped, the plastic sheeting flapping in the wind.

    Can someone tell me why Oakland is not going to go the way of Vallejo and file for Chapter god-knows-which-number? Wasn’t much of our budget based on the presumed transfer taxes on the now shrink wrapped condos?

    P.S. Thanks, Chris, for the welcome. That was very kind of you.

  35. Sherry Oxling

    Sheese, that sounded dark! That’s it — time for me to move. I am loosing my twinkle.

  36. Max Allstadt

    Go where you will folks. I’m stayin.
    Perhaps I’ll be part of John Russo’s predicted paradigm shift.

  37. Julia Cavenovia

    Oakland I can take — but, please! John Russo?

    There just is a limit to how many psychic showers one has to take before embracing a new paradigm shift.