Murders spread throughout the city

So I imagine that as a public official, it must be nearly impossible to come up with something good to tell a reporter when asked to comment on a report rating Oakland the 4th most dangerous city in the US. I can’t imagine what my response would be. But in today’s Trib, Oakland Police Chief Wayne Tucker provides us with a near-perfect example of what you shouldn’t say:

In Oakland, police Chief Wayne Tucker said people might be misled by the report.

“The department is always interested in how we’re being rated,” he said, “but I think a rating can be very deceptive.”

He said being ranked fourth on the list of dangerous cities could easily lead people to believe the whole city is under siege from crime. Tucker said the reality is that crime is concentrated in “two reasonably small areas” in East and West Oakland.

Okay, there are two things very, very wrong with that statement.

First, I have a hard time thinking of a less thinly veiled way to say “Relax. All the crime happens to poor black people.” The implications of his statement are nauseating. Come on. If the reality is that “two reasonably small areas” in East and West Oakland are “under seige from crime,” then the City and the Police Department have a responsibility to deal with that. Everyone deserves safety.

Second, he’s just plain wrong. Below is a map of where every murder in Oakland in 2007 happened. They’re all over the place. We’re not talking about a “reasonably small” area or even a sort-of small area. The small size of the map might make it kind of hard to read on the blog (although you can zoom in), so if you want to view it larger on Google Maps, here’s the link.

View Larger Map

And this is just murders. It doesn’t cover the proliferation of auto theft, burglary, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, and burglary. More evidence that the Oakland Police Department administration is completely out of touch.

8 thoughts on “Murders spread throughout the city

  1. Ryan

    A developer gave me a packet of crime documents that included violent+property crime (everything tracked by the CrimeWatch system) and the total number of crimes in the 1 sq mile around Frank Ogawa Plaza downtown had more crimes over 60 and 90 days than the same area around fruitvale bart and eastmont mall (both in east oakland).

    (He did not compare 90 day periods because for all three areas, the total number of crimes exceeded the system’s 999 record limit.)

    (The report was run Aug 10.)

  2. V Smoothe Post author

    That sounds like the same analysis Tagami was referring to in his comment on this post. He said that the source was DOJ, not Crimewatch, though.

    Speaking of things tracked by Crimewatch, I just noticed that they don’t list rapes. Weird, huh?

  3. Kevin Cook

    So I was going to provide a cautionary point of view by linking to the transcript from the NPR rag “On The Media” which interviewed some sociologist type who was warning that these rankings needed to be interpreted carefully. However, I read this quote from the academic type which refers to St. Louis: “In fact, of serious violent crimes that occur in the city [St. Louis], four to five percent of them tend to occur in the downtown area. When you consider the, you know, effective population of downtown areas, all the people who work there, who recreate there during the evenings, that’s a very, very low percentage. But you’d never know about that from the crime rankings.”

    Well, the opposite appears to be true for Oakland, so I’m going to throw caution to the wind and embrace my complete cynicism about this city’s ability to govern with even minimal effectiveness.

  4. Jim M

    It is interesting that there are almost no muders east of Telegraph Ave, North of Macarthur Blvd and the point where the Warren freeway meets 580. It defenitly shows that income, class, and community awareness play a role in crime. However if you look at other crimes in that area you will see it is the place to go if you want to beg, borrow or steal. It is also the place to go if you want to practice armed robbery without fear the other guy is going to shoot back!
    Given many of these murders happen late at night in such destination spots as Hegenberger and International Blvd, maybe we could ask people to please buy their drugs before 10:00 P.M.
    Better yet, maybe we could get the probation department to monitor their parole and probation clients since they are responsible for half of the crime in the city. I suppose we could ask the legislature and local goverrment leaders to try to pass strict laws regarding that population and get a job program going. Of course with desperados smoking at bus stops, Oak to 9th and development out of control in the city, and dammit we need local control of OUSD; there is little time for such work. And god, what of KPFA!

  5. Moschops

    Hmmm, looks like West O-Town and East O-Town with a bit of downtown thrown in… but definitely nothing West of 880 or up in the hills.

    But I agree that Tucker’s comments were lame – especially in the light of the response to the recent murder in Alameda. Where’s the commitment to getting out of the top 4, no matter how it is measured?

  6. Tagami

    such a small world

    there are three such reports “we” have done

    1. uniform crime
    2. doj
    3. fbi-block level data

    the report ryan has is uniform as it is the city’s offical data the doj and the fbi look worse ;(

  7. amanda

    Inside Bay Area (California)
    November 28, 2007
    “The department, at 719 officers, is still well short of its 803-authorized strength, however, and Assistant Chief Howard Jordan acknowledged that putting more officers on patrol during high-crime hours means there will be fewer officers on patrol at certain times of the day.
    He declined to specify when, exactly, patrols would be at their thinnest. Valladon said deployment plans he’d seen show that between 15 and 20 officers will be on patrol for the entire city between 2:30 and 6 a.m.
    “We’re not adding officers,” he said. “We have the same amount of officers.”