Oakland Crime Stats Update, September edition

I didn’t do one of these last month, since Vivek B. stepped in with his excellent (and far more detailed) crime numbers analysis.

Anyway, here you go. As of September 16th:

38 thoughts on “Oakland Crime Stats Update, September edition

  1. navigator

    We have a 25% drop in homicides, a 19% drop in robberies, and a 13.5% drop in total serious crime. Reading, and watching the SF media, along with the Discovery Channel, you’d think Oakland was a war zone and violent crime was sky high. Oakland never gets the publicity the year crime goes down only to get the publicity once the crime comes back up. Only then, they’ll sensationalize it from the lows of the previous year which were never originally publicized.

    Oakland should be sending out press releases because we certainly know we wont get free publicity from the SF media when crime is down. Oakland needs to toot its own horn. Heck, even Concord has commercials publicizing the city as a great location for businesses. Oakland had a great opportunity to do this when the Bay Bridge closed. Why are East Bay residents forced to go over bridges in earthquake country when there’s a perfect alternative in the mainland in the geographic center of the Bay Area? Once we debunk the crime argument, there is no logical reason why these companies are not headquartered in centrally located Oakland.

  2. Max Allstadt

    For once, I’m in serious agreement with Navigator. That discovery channel series is abominable crime-porn. The way the narrator tries to imply that people live in constant terror is deplorable. We have our problems, but we aren’t living in Gaza. I was offended as hell by that show.

    If the Mayor’s office had a more direct and productive relationship with OPD, he might have been able to ask the gang unit not to cooperate with the producers of this show.

  3. Patrick

    While I would love to jump on this feel-good bandwagon, the fact is that violent crime is down all over the country. San Francisco’s homicide rate, for instance, is down 60%, which bests our reduction by over 40%. We will never overcome our negative publicity by touting a 12.6% reduction in pedophilia. We need to project what is great about our city – and we all know that there is plenty. Roads, port, airport, housing…

    That being said, it was difficult to watch that Discovery Channel series. I had to remind myself several times that the action depicted occured within the city in which I live. It’s rather amazing how far away a couple of miles can be.

  4. Barry K

    Hi V,

    Who and/or what is the source of your data?
    Is Sept 16th the data collected (reported) for 2009?
    If it’s data for only for part of the year, then, it’s not a very accurate report of crime “decreasing” since there is usually a crime spike during Q4.

    Please note that crime stats only count the most serious crime when multiple crimes are involved. So, in fact, certain crimes will be undercounted.

    Regarding the stats that are listed, they are greatly UNDERREPORTING the stats that the FBI has collected and reported on.
    For example, let’s compare your data and the FBI’s data for Oakland for 2008:
    Homicide: chart 103 vs FBI 115
    Aggravated Assault: chart 2858 vs FBI 4,129
    Rape: chart 163 vs FBI 338
    Robbery: chart 2,773 vs FBI 3,323
    Violent Crime: chart 5,897 vs FBI 7,905
    Burglary: chart 5,306 vs FBI 4,488
    Arson: chart 214, vs FBI 299
    Larceny: chart 4,528 vs FBI 8,915
    Auto Theft: chart 5,195 vs FBI 8.085
    Property Crime: chart 15,243 vs FBI 21,488

    2008 TOTAL CRIMES: chart 21,140 vs FBI 59,085

    Here’s my souce:

  5. Robert

    Barry, the very obvious difference is that the FBI data is for the whole year of 2008, while V’s data is for year to date in every case.

  6. navigator

    I have to agree with Max. Why in the world was the Oakland Police Department allowed to cooperate with that insidious depiction of Oakland? That was absolutely disgusting. Did any of you recognize your hometown? Also, I could care less about San Francisco’s fiarytale crime statistics. And, crime is not down everywhere. Richmond has already recorded 41 homicides in a city of 100,000 residents. That would be like Oakland having 164 homicides to date. Salinas has recorded 26 homicides for a city of 126,000 residents.

    As long as Oaklander’s sit back and allow San Francisco interests and others, to scare the crap out of anyone who doesn’t know Oakland, about visiting Oakland, starting a business in Oakland, etc., then Oakland will never reach its full potential based on its great climate, walkable neighborhoods, interesting topography, and central location to all of northern California. How long are we going to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that we get a fair shake from the SF centric media, and that image isn’t important?

    Oakland better start debunking the image which is constantly manufactured by interests who don’t have the city’s interest at heart. Oakland should never cooperate with endeavers which seek to trash the reputation of the city for profit motives. No more gangster documentaries, and definitely no pimp shows for our city. Take it across the Bay next time!

  7. Barry K

    Again, what is the source of the data in the chart? Where did Vivek B. obtain this?
    Where does it state YTD for 2007 and 2008 thru Sept 16th in the data listed?

    Are we to believe that some of these violent crimes spiked from 20-50% in just the last three months?

    Ralph- Why aren’t we looking at complete numbers instead of partial (YTD)? It’s very misleading. You can look at YTD for 2009 against complete figures for 2007 and 2009.

    Who is providing the data in the chart and what is the source?

  8. Art

    Barry, your comments are a bit confusing. In the first, you say it’s misleading to present complete numbers for 08 and 07 against YTD for 09. Then, when it’s pointed out that, in fact, all three are YTD, you think it would be better to present complete numbers for 07/08 against YTD for 09.

    The idea behind YTD numbers is that it’s the only reasonable mode of comparison. You’re right that some crimes peak at particular times of year (e.g., the summer months) and sometimes there are Q4 rises. Using YTD numbers for all years controls for this, to a certain degree. I’m much more interested in knowing what things looked like last September versus this September than in trying to guess/remember how much of last year’s crime happened when.

    However, V has been posting these numbers for a while, and I think if you go into the archives, there’s a rather extensive explanation/discussion of where the numbers come from and why they’re presented this way. If I remember, it’s been tweaked a bit over time to address various suggestions and concerns, so that will probably be helpful. Different sources of stats do vary somewhat, but the more important factor is using a consistent data source for all three years—mixing data is extremely problematic (just as you can’t, say, use Census numbers for population one year and compare to the state’s numbers for another year, since their methodologies are different).

  9. V Smoothe

    I apologize for the confusion. The numbers come from OPD’s daily crime reports and reflect year to date numbers for each year. Normally, I put a link in the post. I am without a computer and also reliable internet access at the moment, so this went up quickly and it slipped through.

  10. Ralph

    barry, you don’t compare YTD numbers against full year numbers because it is an apples to oranges comaprison. If you ever look at the financial news, when companies report earnings it is over the same period a year ago. This is not any different. I really do not understand why you do not understand this.

    Quite honestly, the method you propose would be more confusing to understand. It makes no sense to project current year crime forward so under your method it would be necessary to state that as of 9/16 crime is at 75% of full year prior year. It makes no sense.

  11. 94610BizMan

    This is very interesting and I can provide anecdotal support for the drop in crime. I monitor Oakland crime spotting as well as our neighborhood watch group for crime levels in our immediate neighborhood. I was about to post that for what I define as our immediate neighborhood, there had been no violent crime or burglaries for the last four weeks. Earlier this year we were running at one or two burglaries a week one or two violent crimes per week.

    our neighborhood is a relatively low crime island surrounded by areas of moderate crime so relatively small changes in the overall crime numbers make a disproportionate change in the crime in our neighborhood. That is from no crime, to noticeable crime.

    I have no idea as to what might be the cause other than this does anecdotally negate the commonly held notion that crime goes up with good weather.

  12. MarleenLee

    I hope our new Chief of Police assigns one or more people to carefully look at crime statistics to (1) ensure accuracy; (2) analyze City-wide trends vis a vis regional, state and national trends to assess how we’re doing; (3) help figure out what’s working and what’s not (e.g. size of force, training of force, communication with citizens/community policing functionality); and (4) what else might account for the dips and rises in various sorts of crime. I would also hope that the new Chief would publish monthly reports analyzing the data based on the above so that we wouldn’t have to stumble around in the dark trying to make heads or tails out of it.

  13. Barry K

    Ralph- I have no problem understanding YTD data (Thru Sept 16th).
    However, it’s equally important to understand previous yearly data.
    Likewise, it’s important to post sources of data and who to attribute the data too.

    Kudos to MarleenLee!

    The comparison of the chart vs actual was to illustrate how many more crimes by each category occured after Sept 16th. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear enough.

    YTD, Sept 16th Violent Crimes 2007: 21,493
    Y 2007 Violent Crimes: 62,825
    Nearly 65% of 2007s Violent Crimes occured after Sept 16th!

    YTD Sept 16th Violent Crimes 2008: 21,140
    Y 2008 Violent Crimes: 59,085
    Nearly 65% of 2008′s Violent Crimes occured after Sept 16th!

    Next year, we’ll see how we fared for 2009 after Sept 16th.
    But, historically, nearly 2/3 of Violent Crimes occur after Sept 16th.

    No one has addressed why Oakland’s Violent Crimes are significantly higher than the National Average. Oakland is routinely in the Top 10 ranking of the FBI’s Most Dangerous US Cities for the past few years.

    Nationwide, an estimated 1,408,337 violent crimes occurred in 2007.
    There were an estimated 466.9 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants.
    When data for 2007 were compared with 2006 data, the estimated volume of violent crime declined 0.7 percent.

    The point? Oakland’s 2007 population is just under 400,000 and if it had average crime statistics we should expect 1,868 violent crimes. However, Oakland had over 60,000 violent crimes. So, crime is down nationally but we’re still significantly above the national average, by thousands.

    Ditto for 2008!

  14. Ralph

    Barry, when posting data it is helpful to understand the data. The bold column headings represent totals of the columns to the right. Arson is in its own category. The total crime that the FBI is a shade under 30K. I hope this helps you.

  15. Art

    To determine how many crimes occur after September 16th, you need to make sure you’re comparing the OPD YTD numbers to OPD’s annual numbers, not to the FBI’s (which are almost certainly calculated differently). I’m too tired to dig these up, but they should be floating around somewhere—that will tell you on average what percentage of crimes occur in Q4 in a typical year. I don’t think it’s anything like two thirds of crimes—if I remember, the summer is typically the peak—but who knows.

    Comparing Oakland’s crime rate to the national average isn’t too productive; urban areas almost all have higher crime rates than the national average. But we *should* be comparing it to other peer cities (those with similarly-sized populations and similar socioeconomics) to try to understand what kinds of programs and interventions work in other places that might be replicated here.

  16. Ralph

    Art, the Q4 spike if real is minimal at best.

    For these purposes, I am going to assume that the full year FBI results are not materially different than OPD full year. Thru 9/16/08 PT 1 crime was 21,140 (see above), FBI full year was 29,692 – roughly 71% of the full year crime. As it so happens, 9/16 marks the completion of 71% of the calendar year. Might be fractional differences but you get the idea.

    So, like you I seriously doubt the 2/3 of crime occuring post Sept 16.

  17. V Smoothe

    The numbers compiled by the FBI are reported by local agencies (i.e., OPD). So there is no reason to expect the figures to be substantially different.

  18. Barry K

    For those that don’t understand an average, sorry. The post Sept 16th spike is an average of the total of ALL violent crimes reported. It does not mean that each violent crime category will go up by as much as 65%. (Refer to my first post comparing chart to year.)
    Some categories double in smaller digits. However, the main violent crimes that spike are: Larceny; Auto Theft, Property Crime.

    I wish we had figures and reports on public corruption and ethics violations!

    And, for those that doubt (DENY) gang populations in the US, and, especially the counties in the Bay Area, please visit the Dept of Justice (DOJ) for their 2009 gang report.

    Approximately 6,900 gangs with more than 237,000 members are criminally active in the Pacific Region, according to 2008 NDTS data and interviews with local law enforcement officials. (See Figure 9.) Also according to NDTS data, the percentage of state and local law enforcement agencies in the Pacific Region that report gang activity in their jurisdictions increased from 66 percent in 2004 to 74 percent in 2008.
    As much as 80 percent of crime in some jurisdictions is gang-related, according to law enforcement reporting. The most significant gangs operating in the Pacific Region are 18th Street, Bloods, Crips, La Eme, Nuestra Familia, and Hells Angels.


    Some of these numbers might be too big for some on this blog.

  19. Barry K

    Please, new subjects. Such as, why does Oakland suffer from an alarming crime rate over the US Average. What can be down to reduce it. Some positive solutions would be welcomed.

  20. SF2OAK

    I suppose the declining crime rate is a good thing but it is mind boggling the shear number of crimes
    over 17 violent crimes PER DAY
    A homicide just about every 4 Days
    8.6 Agg Assults PER DAY
    Almost 64 Part I crimes Per Day.

    The list goes on.

    How can you tell how effective the police force and the DA are?
    How many are caught for a particular crime and what is their outcome (and how much does this cost? You would think that people if they saw the enormity of the cost of this would want to do all they can and allow all to be done to rid society of criminals.

    In California “if the child isn’t reading on 4th grade level when tested they will plan to budget building another jail cell.”

    Have you noticed that Tiburon CA & Medina Wa that wants to record every license plate- Medina had 11 burglaries in 08.

  21. livegreen

    Barry, The decrease in crime is significant. So the question is will people repeatedly point to those #’s as significant & stop there.

    I hope not because it still has a ways to go down.

    The chief causes are (not in order):
    1) Hopelessness and lack of jobs;
    2) Drugs, crime, guns & other symptoms that pile up on 1;
    3) Broken families (caused by 1 & 2);
    4)Low quality schools in the Flatlands (exasperated by #3);
    5)Lack of jobs & hope repeats for the next generation after they fail school;
    6)The circle repeats itself.

    When things cycle downwards it’s a lot harder to shift them into the other direction. Political leaders will need to find solutions for key points above to start breaking the cycle, then spread any progress made to break the rest of the cycles.

    As you’ve probably noticed the problems above are complicated and multi-generational, and will take time to crack. Some of what’s been started needs to be continued, and citizens will have to get involved.

    At a minimum in asking their Elected Leaders what their doing to address these points (& not just complaining about putting more money in parking meters)…

  22. Ralph

    Barry, we get averages. You are double counting crime.

    Violent crimes consists of homicide, aggravated assault, rape, and robbery. Violent crimes is not a separate crime type composed of other crimes not listed above.

    Likewise property crimes is composed of larceny, auto theft, and burglary. Thus larceny, auto theft and property crime are not violent crimes.

    As to the spike you are reporting, it appears that the FBI reclassifies some burglaries to larceny. Accordingly, the spikes you see are due to a change in classification, not real spikes in crime. (I would not have realized this unless I compared V’s YTD numbers to the FBI’s full year)

  23. Barry K

    SF2OAK, good points mentioned.
    Livegreen- You are right on the mark.

    Here’s a comparison I posted for our neighborhood group last year. It compares four similar sized cities in CA, and, along measured data sets:

    The 1997-1999 General Fund for Oakland’s Police & Fire: 27%.
    Police Officers: 701 Firefighters: 467
    http://tinyurl.com/56xmax See pages: 56 (headcount) and 74 (budget chart).

    Fresno / 472,170 / 68%
    Long Beach / 473,959 / 66%
    Oakland / 396,541 / 63%
    Sacramento / 460,546 / 54%
    Source: FBI data, 2007

    In 10 years, Oakland’s General Fund went from allocating 27% to Public Safety (Fire and Police) to 67% for the current fiscal.

    Starting in 2011, the General Fund must come up with $39-$45 Million a year for the next 15 years for a closed Police and Fire retirement plan for 1322 retirees. The City needs to fund an additional $500,000,000 by 2016 into this plan which is under contract with the City.

    http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet. com/attachments/ 14028.pdf

    Oakland City Charter established the Police and Fire Retirement System (“PFRS”) and Board to exclusively control the administration and investment of the PFRS Fund.

    In 1997, the City issued pension obligation bonds and made a contribution to the System of approximately $417 million. As a result, no employer contributions are required through the year ending June 30, 2011. In 2005, the City made a voluntary contribution of $17,709,888. On July 1, 2011, the City will again be required to make contributions to the System, based on July 1,2010 assets and liabilities.

    Table 3, Projection of Future Contributions, shows a projection of what the City will be required to contribute in 2011-2012 if the 8 percent actuarial rate of return is met in conjunction with wage growth of 4 percent, 4.50 percent or 5 percent. It is estimated that the City will need to begin contributing $37 million annually to meet their PFRS liability by 2026.

    There are currently 1,322 retirees and 3 active members. The plan currently has over six hundred million dollars ($600,000,000) in assets.

    If the City Council gets the OPA toagree to wage increase concessions, then, it will increase the yearly contributions. Brilliant.

    Crime pays. Vallejo or Bust.

  24. RWD

    It is all marketing/pr. The perception of Oakland is that its dangerous and crime ridden. The city leaders (oxymoron if you ask me) need to hire a PR/Marketing firm to start pitching ideas/stories to the media about all the cool things in Oakland. It won’t happen by itself.

  25. James Robinson

    I agree with RWD. For example, a lot of people treat Atlanta like it is heaven. Why? Because they have gotten some marvelous PR ever since they hosted the Olympics in 1996. Oakland needs to start rebuilding its reputation.

  26. Kipper

    How about this catchy tourism slogan:

    “If you are not black or Latino, not between the ages of 16 and 27, not on probation or parole, not associated with guns and/or narcotics or people dealing with guns or narcotics, and not on the streets of Oakland between the hours of eleven and 4am then your chances of being murdered are virtually zero. Oakland…a safe place to visit…for most.”

  27. Naomi Schiff

    Some of our worst pr comes from Jerry Brown. We should consider paying him to not say anything at all about Oakland. He seems to be so sorely tempted to wax negative in the SF press (who are all too eager to diss the Town across the bay) about this place that he lives in.

    In his efforts to sound clever he is doing some real damage, I think.

  28. navigator

    I have to agree with RWD and James.

    Oakland definitely needs to be pro-active in building its image. Oakland can not allow the SF media and the Discovery Channel to distort its image without fighting back. Oakland sits passively by while its image is constantly torn to shreds.

    Oakland has been doing well recently with lower crime numbers, and increased restaurant and entertainment activity. However, for every person who goes to the Art Murmur, dines in one of the many fine restaurants in town, goes to see a concert at the Fox or Paramount etc., there are probably two or three bypassing Oakland because of what they see and read in the SF media and what they see in glorified crime series like the Discovery Channel’s unfair, unbalaced, and deceitful depiction of life in Oakland. Although the restaurants in Uptown seem to be doing well, think how much better things would be if people were not intentionally manipulated and frighten about Oakland.

    It’s time that Oakland fight back. It’s time for Oakland to launch a PR campaign emphasizing its proximity to the huge East Bay labor force, its great public transportation system, its safer bridge free alternative to San Francisco, etc. Sitting back and doing nothing is not an option. Oakland needs to shape its own image and not allow competing interests to paint the unflattering picture.

    That Discovery Channel series was a complete outrage. Why does Oakland allow itself to be portrayed in this manner? Why allow the Oakland Police Department to participate in that horrible depiction?

  29. Max Allstadt


    While I think the Discovery Channel program was distasteful rubbernecking crime-porn, you can’t rubberneck if there’s nothing to look at.

    There is crime in this town, and this town is dangerous. A friend of mine was shot in the leg last weekend in West Oakland by a dickhead who apparently did it just for fun. And while my circle of friends was surprised, we weren’t shocked.

  30. Barry K

    I agree with Max. (btw- nice hair last night!)

    All those that have been a victim or know a victim of crime, raise your hand. I thought so.

    Crimes attributed to gangs is increasing nationwide. It is especially growing in the Pacific region of US; that includes CA and especially all counties in the Bay Area.

    There are currently 65 known active gangs in Oakland. As of Jan 2008:
    From OPD as presented to the City Council.

    25 Hispanic, 15 Asian, 20 African American and 5 motorcycle gangs. These
    gangs operate on three levels:

    • Organized Crime (Chinese Triads, Drug Cartels, Motorcycle Clubs)
    • Prison Gangs (Black Guerilla Family, Four One Five, Mexican Mafia, Aryan
    Brotherhood, Nuestra Familia, Northern Structure)
    • Street Turf Gangs (Fruitvale Gangsters, Border Brothers, Oaktown Crips, Ghost Town, Dog Town, 11-5 Till I Die, Sobrante Park, Twamps)

    Again, I would like to see some stats on public corruption!
    It’s the #4 on the FBI’s list.

  31. VivekB

    holy crap; i’m in the midst of redoing the crime stats, it’ll take me another few hours, but one thing jumped out, and proves (to me) why any YTD comparison is utterly useless (either YTD, or forecasted or FBI comparisons or whatever): August was AWFUL from both a property & violent crimes perspective.

    And when I mean awful, I mean violent was 2X the 2009 monthly run-rate, and property was 70% higher than the 2009 monthly run-rate. A better report for OPD/etc to do would be to compare the current time period with the median per month for 2009/2008/2007/etc.

    One of youse guys (Patrick?) that lives in Fruitvale will also be interested in the pretty pictures & tables; your #s, violent-crime-wise were even worse. Either 2X or 3X the prior month.

    it’s 9:30 now, i doubt i’ll be done with this much before 12:30am or so and I have meeting marathons tomorrow starting real early and running through the 12Y/13X NCPC tomorrow night, but i’ll try to ping back here when it’s done. I may not have much time to answer questions for a few days, so forgive me if I just do a “it’s ready” comment, and then disappear.

  32. Barry K

    V and Vivek,

    Are either of you familiar with Alameda’s Police Crime statistical database?

    Six years ago, a real estate agent suggested I go to Alameda PD and pay $20 to get a crime report for the area I was interested in buying into.

    It was a simple form to complete, and the printout took one hour.

    The report is based on a set range (mile/miles) out from a given address. The output lists every reported violent act with exact date and street address. I requested a six month period of time.
    For a “safe” area, I was quite surprised about the number of crimes. Apartment complexes had the most incidents.

    When I asked the officer why Alameda doesn’t have street people or homeless, the officer replied, “We pick them up and drive them to Oakland and leave them there.” These weren’t in the reports, just off the record.

    Maybe a field trip or a call to Alameda PD to get the name (and cost) of the program they use could be of use.

  33. VivekB

    DAMNIT! I need to move my ‘qa’ up earlier in the process.

    I just spent the last 2 hours analyzing data, then did my quality-assurance check. Then realized something was wrong.

    I accidentally double-loaded several weeks of August data.

    Sigh. just hit the ‘delete August Data’ button, now reloading it a single time. Hopefully now the #s will be better.

  34. navigator


    I’m sorry to hear about your friend. The thug that did that has to be less than human.

    Unfortunately, it’s not possible to be a large city in the United States and be crime free. There will always be something to look at. The problem lies in who decides to look where. The Discovery Channel could have done their crime porn show on gangs in any large city in the United States. Heck, they could have even gone across the Bay to San Francisco and looked at their substantial gang problem with the Nortenos and Surrenos. I mean having a donnybrook inside a restaurant where two gang members are killed is pretty sensational stuff. Also, SF has a number of African American gangs in Hunter’s Point.

    Of course, somehow someone somewhere decided it would be a good idea to distort the number of gang members in Oakland and turn Oakland into some sort of hell hole .

  35. Vivek Bhatia

    Ok, finally done with legit data. I included (Patricks?) beats this time. It’s got:
    - OPD wide, Area 1/2/3
    - Area 1 beats: 12Y/13X (Rockridge), 12X (Temescal), 11X (just west of rockridge), 9X (east of temescal), Closer to downtown beats (4X, 7X, 9X, 10X)
    - Area 2 beats: Mostly Fruitvale area (20X, 21X, 21Y) and neighboring (18Y)