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?