Vivek B: Digging into Oakland crime statistics

Hi folks. My name is Vivek B, and for about 2 years now i’ve been doing monthly graphs & analysis of the OPD crime stats. I load up the data from CrimeSpotting.Org into an access database, and look at it 16 ways from Sunday. I live in Rockridge, so I started off focusimg on Area 1 & our beats, mainly as I wanted to make sure the #s jived up with the feeling around the ‘hood. About 9 months ago I started doing this for all Areas, but kept a detailed analysis on the neighboring beats. My theory is that if crime moves due to higher enforcement, the bad guys are more apt to only move 1-2 beats away, rather than clear across the city to an unknown neighborhood.

I’m writing this guest post to not only let you know how crime has been doing Oakland wide, but also demonstrate how I’m using this to help our immediate beat. I find the #s for any given month wholly unsatisfying – gee, we had 102 calls for OPD service for troubling crimes in July. Is that good? Is that bad? How should I feel? How are other beats doing? Other areas?

But before we get started, let me give you a quick tutorial on how OPD is setup: There’s 3 geographic areas, as shown here:


Furthermore, each area has ~14 beats in it. To give you an aerial example, here’s Rockridge & the neighboring beats:


What I do is to take the full list of crimes, and break them into my own opinion of what the categories should be. I don’t worry about “all crime” as I think that’s a useless # – it treats armed robberies the same as jaywalking. So, I plot:

  • Crimes against a person. (aka, violent plus some disturbing stuff)
  • Crimes against property
  • Crimes against person, property, & major drug offenses (not minor possession).

I plot 2 graphs, one for Area 1 vs 2 vs 3, and one for Rockridge & the 3 beats immediately surrounding it. What I’m looking for is lines that move in opposite directions (crime goes up in one area and down in another) as that’s a clue that crime is merely getting moved around, not actually reduced.

Enough chit-chat, let’s get started. Here’s the graphs from Jan ’08 to present.

Let’s start with crimes against a person:


See how all areas went up in July? Crime went up everywhere, and it was clearly noticeable.


And oy, Rockridge (12Y/13X) had a huge spike.

If you’re the type who likes #s…


You’ll note that I track medians, not averages. That’s because the mean is a useless #, a really bad or really good month can throw off the count. But a median looks for the middle ground, so a really extreme month won’t have an oversized impact.

Since I live in Rockridge, I was understandably concerned about that spike, so I dug further. I plotted the weekly stats for the past 90 days. I saw this:


If you look closely, two weeks were really bad, and killed the stats. But other than that, life was normal. So, i’m hoping that the situation was simply that 1+ roaming gangs chose 12Y/13X for their thuggery, rather than be a permanent increase in the level.

In the report I created for the NCPC, I have even more detailed graphs & tables on the types of crimes during those weeks, but this is already too detailed so i’ll move on to property:


Well, that doesn’t look so bad. Let’s see how the beats are doing:


Rockridge & the immediate beats edged up, and comparisons to the 2009 median is a mixed bag.


So, it seems that life is worse on the property crimes too, just not as bad as the spike in violent crimes.

And what do I do with this info? Well, on a monthly basis I publish it to my site, and based on what it says i take the appropriate action. This past month I decided the spike was bad enough that I sent out a special alert to a bunch of neighbors who typically don’t want to hear about crime, and asked them to take some pretty basic measures (ie, remember to lock the doors, leave nothing of value in plain sight in the car, avoid talking on the cellphone or iPod when walking home from BART, etc).

Hopefully that makes sense. If you have any questions or want to see some specialized graphs, let me know.

Vivek B. is an Oakland resident and creator of Rockridge Residents.org.

52 thoughts on “Vivek B: Digging into Oakland crime statistics

  1. hedera

    I was just going to say, “Go, Vivek!” – but V’s software thinks that’s “too short”! We in Rockridge have been following Vivek’s stats for a couple of years now, and we love the overview he gives us (if we don’t always love the numbers themselves…). Glad to see his work getting a broader exposure.

  2. Ken O

    Vivek’s the man! Puts a lot of time/effort into this civic effort. Hope your neighbors appreciate you!

    the crimespotting.org guys are also doing good work.

  3. VivekB

    FYI, if you like YTD comparisons, I have those too. I don’t like those #’s as I think the median is more satisfying, but I know the councilmembers like YTD and comparisons to prior years.

    Re: Time too short. I agree, but nothing I can do about that as the raw data isn’t available.

    I have crime reports data from OPD for Jan ’05->Nov ’05, and Jan ’07->Mar ’09, but unfortunately OPD doesn’t have the bandwidth to produce those reports anymore. The Crimespotting guys feed has data from Julyish ’07->current, but is for reports & incidents (aka, calls for service). Since not every incident turns into a report, I can’t compare their data with the OPD excel spreadsheets.

    Even if OPD were to immediately resume producing the excel spreadsheets, I couldn’t do a fair analysis as I don’t have March->Current. Hence, my only hope for longer term analysis is if OPD resumes this but gives us data from back to when they stopped. I only need a single spreadsheet for this, as I load the whole dang thing up into MS-Access anyhow.

    So…OPD, if you’re listening, I promise to give you all hugs and kisses if you get us those back-dated spreadsheets (& future ones). Or, I’ll promise *not* to give you all hugs & kisses, whatever path is more apt to lead to results :-)

  4. Russell Spitzer

    Thanks so much for working with all this data, as I spend most of my life doing data mining (although related to molecular interactions) I find it really interesting but I do have a few critiques for improvement.

    //Science Grad Student Mode

    I’m not to sure that the trends you are noticing in the first graph is statistically significant. For example in the first graph I don’t really notice any strong trends in the data and I’m sure if we applied some statistical tests we would probably find the outliers explained by the general noise in the data. I also think you may want to remove the connecting bars from your graphs as they distract a lot from the actual information of the graph (and give the illusion of rises and falls when it may just be normal deviation from a set level)

    Its also quite dangerous to start looking at percentage changes when you are talking about low integer numbers. For example remember that lovely conservative tactic during our last supreme court nomination about S. S.’s 60% rejection rate , which was actually 3/5. You actually make a good analysis when you look specifically at the data and note that a increase of 4 or 5 incidents could easily be caused by a single group and may not indicate an overall trend.

    As for software you may find R or Matlab quite useful. R is free so it may be a preferred choice and it contains many more graphing objects than microsoft and has a good selection of statistical tools.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. Bob LaMartin

    Vivek,

    You are amazing! Not just for the work you put into this for Rockridge, but for your willingness to do it citywide, and to share it with the community.

    I have a theory that when we confront a dysfunctional and broken city, one of the most effective ways we have to address the problems we encounter is to set up our own mechanisms and solutions, to just figure out a way to work around impediments. If everyone put as much time or energy into just going around obstacles as you do, instead of whining about why this or that or the other things isn’t working, we would live in a better city.

    Creative problem solving like this has the dual purpose of demonstrating our own resourcefulness (in this case your resourcefulness), as well as demonstrating how easy it would be to fix the dysfunctional aspects of the city, which we are compelled to find our own solutions for. Not that you or any of us are being paid the generous salaries, benefits, or retirement that we pay those who are not doing this work.

    You offer this information to the entire city gratis, while those who used to be tasked with supplying this information, first to the command staff, and then eventually with the entire community, before Chief Tucker warned his OPD troops not to go “go native.” That is really generous of you!

    You are an amazing asset to Oakland, and I urge everyone to check out Vivek’s
    http://rockridgeresidents.org/ This is one of the few places you can get really fine grain detail about Oakland with a boolean search, unlike many neighborhood groups which you have to join and be a member of to get detailed information.

    Keep up the great work!

    Bob LaMartin

  6. Robert

    Great job Vivek. I would echo Russell’s caution that a lot of what you are seeing is likely to be random noise, but on the other hand, the human eye is one of the best tools out there for detecting trends, and a lot of the statistical tools that have been invented for trend analysis are there to replace a trained eye. So statistics are nice, but you provide a great service in making the graphs.

    That all said, one trend that pops up is the property crime in beats 12Y/13X. The period between 9/08 and 5/09 is out of trend with the period before, and possibly after. (In my business we call it a process shift when this happens) The question to put back to the PD is what happened between early 08 and later 08, because these are the type of observations that can lead to improved safety, and not just monitoring of status.

    Once again, great job.

  7. VivekB

    Thanks for the props. For Robert/Russell re:the small sample sets, yep, totally agree, but looking for those monthly deviations has some value. It may not be conclusive, but the July violent crimes example is a good one – at first glance, we had nearly 2 years of 4->15 incidents per month. And what you don’t see is what I had for 2005 & 2007 were #s in a similar, albeit lower, range. All of a sudden, we had 26. That warranted a further look. But that examination just showed the 2 spike weeks, which really point to an opportunistic single guy or gang.

    All that said, most months I ignore the violent crimes graphs for the beat as they’re really not statistically meaningful. Property crimes which run ~50 reports/month, plus a graph that I didn’t put here for the violent+property+major drugs, have a little more data to garner a better handle.

    For me, 99% of my neighbors are content to pretend crime doesn’t exist. Matter of fact last night during one of our biweekly neighborhood “happy hours” (the block gets together in front of someone’s house every other Fri from 6-8pm to have a few drinks, some chips, kids play together) one of the neighbors expressed shock that a car was stolen on our street. When I told her that 5-8 cars are stolen every month in our beat, and that we have 50+ property crimes/month, her direct quote response was “Yeah, well I prefer to think that those kinds of things don’t happen around here”.

    By plotting these #s and thrusting them in peoples faces, I can tell them that yes, virginia, there are indeed bad guys out there. And if you all continue to act like ostriches with your head in the sand, everyone will know Rockridge is a bunch of easy marks, and the bad guys will come here in droves as they know we aren’t taking any steps to protect ourselves.

    Actually, knowing all our neighbors is one of the biggest benefits of that biweekly happy hour; now we know a little more about each other, what we’re like, so that when we see strangers poking around other people’s houses, we’ll have a better handle on whether it’s someone the neighbor would be friends with or whether it’s something more nefarious.

  8. MarleenLee

    I think it’s great that you crunch these numbers so that they can be compared to the City’s officials numbers and occasional claims that crime is dropping. I was going to say it helps keep them honest, but that would presuppose that they actually are honest to begin with, which I tend to disbelieve. To me the next question is – once you have the information, how does that translate into action? We can see from your charts that crime is still unacceptably high, even in relatively “nice” areas like yours. What I can’t understand is how people are ready to revolt and recall the City Council over parking meter rates, but they put up with murders, rapes and muggings like it’s something we just have to learn to live with.

  9. len

    ML, looking back over the past month or so, I don’t think there would have been any big pushback on the meters if it hadn’t been for the local merchants pushing back. the many residents who thought it was stupidly implemented would have just shook their heads and written it off as part of the burden they bear for living here.

    You’d think most residents lived in gated communities.

    Why the political passivity? combo of poor news coverage, and a bunch of other factors including the negative side of diversity.

    One of the odd things, is that many civic minded residents tend to avoid seeking political solutions to our crime and muni service and financial shortcomings. As if huddling together in neighborhood watch groups is gonna stop the bad guys.

    -len

  10. Patrick

    The loss of the fourth estate is the reason for our political passivity (apathy). Michaan did a good job of riling up just enough locals re: parking to sway our “leaders”. A couple of blithe, generic paragraphs about murders/woundings in East/West/North Oakland in the Tribune is just another Google result. Two clicks and you’re watching “King of the Hill” on Hulu.

    Until Max is out on the street corner shouting “Extra! Extra!” and waving copies of V’s blog posts (or any other well-written and researched information), we might as well accept our fate. As our news sources become increasingly fragmented, tangential and emotional, our opinions will as well. Rarely is there any worthwhile or intelligent mass media-driven consensus (BART strike a notable exception) anymore.

  11. Max Allstadt

    As for standing on the corner yelling “Extra”, I don’t think I can do that, nor do I necessarily think it’s the best way to propagate the quality work of folks like Vivek, V, DTO510, Becks, etc.

    However, flyers or stickers promoting the blogoaksphere have been discussed, and I think they might be a good idea. I was in a Temescal coffee shop the other day while two men in their 70s were lamenting the fact that there’s not enough good local coverage in the MediaNews owned papers. I wish I’d had a flyer to drop on their table.

    As for what Vivek’s doing, frankly the city should give him a grant to expand.

  12. VivekB

    Re: Apathy except for parking, read this overly sarcastic post: http://rockridgeresidents.org/forums/showthread.php?t=615 . It’s a little ‘skit’ I wrote up about how a conversation is a generic Rockridge neighborhood goes.

    Marleen: What I do is to create some very ‘actionable’ requests, and use the #s as justification for why it’s important. I don’t make them overly complex as folks wouldn’t follow them otherwise. Here’s what I sent out with this one:
    1) lock your doors,
    2) turn on your security alarms,
    3) pay attention when you walk down the street, especially if it’s later at night,
    4) avoid talking on your cellphones or listening to iPod’s if you’re solo.
    5) keep your front lights on after dark (get motion sensor lights & CFLs if you want to conserve energy).
    6) Leave nothing visible of value in your cars
    7) don’t open the door to solicitors. most of the recent ones have been entirely sketchy, and suspected of casing homes.

    Sounds pretty basic, but at the last happy hour one neighbor was joking about how she’s always forgetting her iPod or laptop in her car. She doesn’t understand the whole ‘target-rich’ environment concept.

    Re: “advertising”. I appreciate the comments, and honestly thank you guys. But in all fairness to becks/dto/VS, I don’t hold a candle to those guys. They spend hours and hours per day & week to do this high quality reporting, I only spend perhaps 10 hours/month looking at #s that is of objective value. The rest of my time is moderating the forums so that all oaklanders have a non-email based mechanism to communicate. I also create or participate in random threads that come to mind (ie, BART strike & unions, healthcare reform, funny jokes, post coupons), which can hardly be classified as “making Oakland better” :-)

    My latest bad joke example:
    A Catholic guy goes into the confessional box.

    He notices on one wall a fully-equipped bar with Guinness on tap. On the
    other wall is a dazzling array of the finest Cuban cigars.

    Then Father Quinn comes in.

    “Father, forgive me, for it’s been a very long time since I’ve been to confession,
    but I must first admit that the confessional box is much more inviting these days.”

    Father Quinn replies, “Get out. You’re on my side.”

  13. len

    Oakland political apathy is partially explained by the old poly sci theory about revolutions and citizen expectations: they don’t occur when things are really bad and getting worse. people revolt when conditions have slighly improved and they have “rising expectations”.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  14. navigator

    Vivek,

    According to the charts above, Rockridge, Montclair and North Oakland have more crime than Fruitvale and Central Oakland. Is that true? Am I reading the charts correctly? if so we need some serious price adjustments on the pertaining Real Estate in the two areas.

  15. Patrick

    nav -

    I noticed that as well. It’s part of the problem of living here in the huge swath of land known as “East Oakland” (sorry to bring that up again). If these numbers are correct, North/West Oakland (in Area 1) and Deep East Oakland (Area 3) must have astronomical crime rates to be able to spike the numbers that high, comparatively.

    I do think that Area 2, overall, is seeing a much greater and more rapid demographic shift than either of the other two areas. It wasn’t that long ago that the area I live in was known as “Murder Dubs”. These days, when a house goes up for sale (and we have relatively few), the buyers seem to be older asians, young hispanic couples or white hipster/hesher types buying their first home. That’s a completely unscientific opinion based on observation, of course, but the feel of the whole area is definitely changing.

  16. VivekB

    nav/pat: Keep in mind that these are not adjusted per capita or per square mile. These are raw #s. Hence, my advice is to not compare the #s with each other on an absolute basis, but rather on a relative basis. I.E., if crime rose in Area 1 by 20%, did crime in area 2 or 3 fall by a total of that same amount? Also, has crime in Area or Beat consistently and clearly gone up over the past 2 years? Is it bouncing around in a range?

    BTW, lemme know if anybody wants another beat (or few beats) graphed for the same time period. I’ve got them all in an access db, takes almost no time. Indicate whether you want: A) AGainst a person, B)Against Property, C)Against Person/Property/Major drug.

  17. Patrick

    Were the 3 police areas not divided by population? The most densely populated area of the city is council district 5 (in police Area 2), which is why Ignacio’s district is so small relative to the others and is closely followed by Kernighan’s District 2, also in police Area 2. If the police Areas were not divided with regard to population, that just makes Area 2′s numbers that much better.

    I would be forever grateful to you Vivek if you would be so kind as to run the gamut for “my” police beat: 21X.

  18. Rebecca Kaplan

    Thanks much for this data analysis — I do find it helpful to be able to look at the charts over time, as a way to look for trends too.

    By the way, I met new Police Chief Anthony Batts today, and I feel very good about him as Oakland’s next Chief. Both in terms of experience and attitude. Also, he mentioned that one of the things he is interested in improving is data analysis. I plan to share your data with him too.

    (Timeline: Most likely he will move to Oakland and become Chief in late September).

  19. VivekB

    Ok Patrick, here you go. Rather than just do 21X, I did 18Y (NW of you, just past 23rd) , 20X (SW, just over foothill), 21X (eh, you), 21Y (East, I *think* fruitvale blvd is the dividing line but you’d know).

    I don’t think the img tags work inside comments, so i’ll first do a comment with the hyperlink, and a 2nd one actually embedding the IMG tag.

    http://www.rockridgeresidents.org/images/stories/crime/090801/090801_Beat2_Tables.JPG

    http://www.rockridgeresidents.org/images/stories/crime/090801/090801_Beat2_Trends.JPG

    Do me a favor, gutcheck these, make sure they pass your sniff test. It should be fine, but i’ve never tried those beats.

  20. Hayden

    These stats and related crime information are much appreciated. For example, a friend reported that 5 or so people were injured in a shooting tonight at 7th and Mandela–sometimes, a blurb shows up in the Chron, but otherwise it can be tough to find out more information, at least until the next CPC meeting.

    Thanks!

  21. Bob LaMartin

    Hayden,

    Why is that information so hard to get? Can’t you get it from your Neighborhood Services Coordinator (NSC)? They get paid $96,000/year in salary and benefits out of the OPD budget (but they have no OPD supervision) so that they have “access” to information like this, yet they cannot provide this information? What’s the deal with that?

    Not only that, most of the criminal information that people are asking for is public information!

    Bob LaMartin

  22. MarleenLee

    Len – if your poli sci theory is correct, then people should be ready to stage a revolt now. For a while there, the police department was staffed at around 830 officers. Things were better! Now we’re back to under 800. That $7.7 million the City stole from Measure Y got us about six months of adequate staffing. Do you know how many years of parking meter fee increases that is? Why aren’t people’s blood boiling?

    And speaking of getting information on crime – our NSC sent out an e-mail a couple weeks ago regarding a recent arrest of a burglary suspect, and when somebody asked for the details (e.g. addresses of homes where burglaries occurred) she wrote back that this was “confidential” information. I then wrote to her advising her under the Public Records Act we were entitled to the information, made a formal request, and I have yet to hear anything back. Typical.

  23. Bob LaMartin

    Typical indeed. Arrest records are public information, as are the booking pictures of suspects and extensive criminal histories. Anyone with any doubts about this should join their local PSA groups, where this information is posted.

    The NSCs desperately cling to the pant legs of OPD, who continually try to kick them off (OPD has made it clear for the last three years that they don’t want the NSCs in their budget). They are not respected by OPD, or many members in the community who are not willing to slow down to the lowest common denominator pace of NCPC meetings. Most NSCs cannot get useful information to the community, and are ignorant of most neighborhood services, much less how to coordinate them. All that for $96,000/year!

    The support for NSCs comes from some NCPC “leaders” who the NSCs kowtow to, “leaders” with low expectations which are always met by their NSCs, and who protect them from having to answer to the community as a whole. If other group members attempt to challenge the NSCs to perform their job descriptions, they are simply ignored or ostracized. It doesn’t take more than one or two meetings for people who want more than the most rudimentary lecture from McGruff the Crime Dog to vote with their feet about NCPC participation. Not because of the NCPCs, but because of the NSCs.

    And don’t even get me started on how the city has ripped off the citizens of Oakland on Measure Y, the city of Oakland has no legal right to collect Measure Y taxes this year, but because they and their shills play the 3 card monty game so well with those funds, it’s just a little too complicated for the average citizen to understand (it’s not, really, but the willful ignorance is sort of baffling to me).

    I don’t want to hijack this conversation, this is about the wonderful job that Vivek is doing with the statistical dump that come from the city, which helps to make up for all the reports we used to get from the city about crime.

    I would be happy to write a column on Measure Y.

    Bob LaMartin

  24. Patrick

    Wow, VivekB, thanks. What incredibly interesting and valuable information. I am a little surprised by 21X vs. 21Y: I would have expected the numbers for 21Y to be measurably worse than “my” beat because 21Y includes Fruitvale Avenue. Of course, 21X includes 23rd Avenue which is kind of notorious.

  25. anon

    Just for the record the OPD were looking for some guys today (Tues.) in the North Oakland flatlands, who had apparently committed 4 armed robberies in two hours. I haven’t heard any news reports on this.

  26. Andy Panda

    Citizens like VivekB are awesome. That kind of effort & involvement is rare, & shows a well motivated person with a good heart. I find posters here to be involved & informed over a wide array of Oakland issues, with the occasional prickly grouch who hammers on one pet gripe.

  27. Chris Vernon

    I can’t speak to the performance of all the Neighborhood Services Coordinators (NSC’s), but can vouch for the effectiveness of the NSC working in beat 11X and most of the other North Oakland beats. He’s worked effectively and collaboratively with our beat officer to deal with situations most appropriate for community policing – a pattern is established, noted, brought to the attention of the police by the community – the NSC and beat officer get to the root of the problem and solve it. It’s a very good working model.

  28. VivekB

    Patrick, I should thank you for getting me to do that. If you look at the Area 2 tables again, you’ll see that I unlinked 12Y & 13X (the two rockridge beats). Who woulda thunk that the Rockridge flatlands (12Y) have more crime than Fruitvale (21Y or 21X).

    I sent out a heads up to a few rockridge yahoogroups plus the forums, man oh man people don’t like hearing the truth. I should suspend my personal email for a while and force folks to use the forums, at least that way my phone won’t buzz every 15 mins with another email message from the ostriches. (the ones hiding their head in the sand).

    Granted, i didn’t plot major drug crimes, only violent & property crimes, but still it’s not what my neighbors want to hear.

  29. Daniel Schulman (das88)

    @VivekB “Who woulda thunk that the Rockridge flatlands (12Y) have more crime than Fruitvale (21Y or 21X).”

    While I am actually not that surprised, you need also to remember that crime stats only include reported crime. Fruitvale includes more undocumented and recent immigrants who don’t trust the police. Longtime residents may be more jaded and think reporting crime doesn’t help at all.

  30. Patrick

    An interesting theory, Daniel. Most of 21 x and y are single family residential. Yes, there are some commercial and multi-family properties, but they are generally “grouped” along well-traveled corridors – and most are generally well-kept. Also, as I mentioned earlier, homes don’t come up for sale frequently around here (so says the appraiser who had a very difficult time coming up with comps during my recent refi). This suggests, I think, a fairly stable area. Furthermore, calling this area the Fruitvale isn’t entirely accurate. What most people think of as the Fruitvale is below Foothill south of 23rd Avenue – neither of which is included in 21 x or y. My guess is that most of the people in this area associate, at least financially, with the Dimond District, which this was traditionally a part of (pre-I-580). Also, we have greater population density; perhaps that skews the numbers per person? Maybe we just have less to steal so we’re left (relatively) alone?

  31. VivekB

    Or maybe Rockridgeans are, in OPDs words, living in “La La Land” where they don’t think crime really exists (see my neighbors comments above).

    What do you expect when you
    - walk around with cash,
    - ignore basic safety tips (ie, walk home from BART on your iPhone in the dark with expensive shopping bags and not paying attention to the people around you) or,
    - as my next door neighbor really did: don’t cross the street or take any evasive measures when a scraggly, clearly on drugs dude sees you and starts walking towards you because the dude was black and she didn’t want a stranger to think she was racist. It’s not racist to avoid a scary guy walking at you, it’s darwinistic to NOT do that.

    Rockridge is a target rich environment, and not that we walk around with cash, but that we’re a bunch of ignorant suckers. If I was a crook, i’d sure as hell prefer to rob us versus folks who may actually realize i was coming.

  32. Sussu

    This is really interesting information and discussion, thanks all. I live in West Oakland and typically feel pretty safe – but living in any urban area takes awareness and street smarts. I have a sense that a lot of the crime around here happens between people who know each other, or are doing business with each other. I try to stay away from those types of scenes. We have an active Neighborhood Watch group and we look our for each other. In fact, I am happy to be living surrounded by my favorite neighbors ever.

    I would be incredibly curious to see this analysis for beat 7X, but I appreciate that you may have other things to do with your time, Vivek, so no worries if you don’t get to it.

  33. ann

    Dear Vivek,

    Thanks, for the analysis and the accurate data. I wonder if you or the crimespotting heroes are tracking crime as it relates to Oakland’s booming marijuana industry. Grow house location versus crime, especially property crime.

    I live in the Dimond, the community has really reduced crime by closing or keeping out crime magnet businesses. The Hillcrest Motel, the Grace Joy Lodge proposed pawn shops, liquor stores and check cashing places. Now, we have unknowingly become a “grow house” neigborhood, 2 known houses within a block of my house. These houses are within 4 blocks of 4 schools.

    One grower’s appears to have a meth problem and was recently arrested. Neighbors have called the police and the city attorney but most don’t even get a call back. The city attorney’s office is mostly out until next Thursday, but we’ll keep trying.

    We’ve had an increase in burglaries and attempted burgalaries on the same block as the houses but no public officials seem to be making any connections. The neighbor who recently got out jail claims he’s licensed for 72 plants but it smells like more. No one we’ve been able to reach at the City even knows who grants the pot licenses.

    Maybe we could just do an infra-red picture of Oakland’s grow houses and overlay it with the crime patterns.

    Does anyone over your way know anything about pot permitting. Oakland once permitted a rap CD release party in Dimond Park, it turned into a riot. They didn’t jump in or break it up until an OPD car got attacked and by that time they had to use helicopters. I hope someone at OPD or the City of Oakland has some idea how many legal “grow houses” there are in Oakland and where they are. I also hope there’s way to pull a permit.

    Does anyone on the blog have good sources for information on this.

    Thanks,
    Ann Nomura

  34. navigator

    Unfortunately, some people who live in Rockridge have an inflated view of what crime in Fruitvale should be, based on how the media reports crime and on their own long held personal biases. I grew up in lower Rockridge, on Manila Avenue, ,and then moved to my first apartment at the corner of Cavour and Lawton. There was always some crime in the area. As a matter of fact, as a kid, when crossing 51st street to go play baseball at Emerson Elementary, it was like crossing the border into uncharted territory because you never knew when a few thugs living in the public housing on 49th Street would confront you on the streets. I remember the grandson of our elderly landlords was savagely beaten in the Rockridge neighborhood by some thugs. This was back in the early 80s. Unfortunately, stuff happens everywhere. I’ll agree with a comment from another poster where she said most serious and violent crime happens between people who know each other and are doing “business.” Most crime is interpersonal stuff.

    Also, it’s good to know the crime numbers but we shouldn’t be consumed by statistics. When I grew up in lower Rockridge we were vigilante but we still enjoyed living life in what we felt was a good neighborhood. We were never consumed or paralyzed by fear. Rockridge is a wonderful, interesting and vibrant neighborhood which has crime. Fruitvale, while not affluent, is also a colorful vibrant neighborhood with crime. The difference is perception of crime and the reality that Fruitvale is a gritty lower income district with more violent crimes occurring along its borders.

  35. livegreen

    Ann, Can’t your NCPC, PSO & City Councilperson help with some of this? Esp. as 22x is a very very active NCPC.

    BTW, I’ve also heard (2nd hand) there’s some low-level drug dealing in one of the apartment buildings on Dimond Ave., just below Dimond Park, and across the street from the Montessori school…

  36. len raphael

    Nav, where were you yesterday when i needed you :)

    A white male teenager, about 18 walking down my street, i watched as he threw his wendy’s cup in the street. i asked him to pick it up and his words were “Where do you think you’re living? This is Oaktown man, not some burb”

    It went downhill from there to where my neighbors came out and we called the cops.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  37. Ralph

    len, sounds like that kids parents should have been sterilized. for clearly, they failed to teach him about respect. the community should have the option to take him to the public square for a public lashing. a second offense shall result in a public hanging. we really need to get tough on quality of life crimes. see NYC

  38. navigator

    Len, he’s lucky I wasn’t there. You know how I am about cleanliness. This would’ve probably set me off and I might have rubbed his nose in that Wendy’s cup. What a ridiculous attitude!

  39. Max Allstadt

    Nobody would have really rubbed his face in the cup, and nobody’s gonna give him a public lashing. Hyperbole like that (even when I do it) doesn’t really help anything.

    But it’s good to have people like Len who are willing to scold disrespectful kids.

    Even if that kid was all huff puff and bravado that day, it might register with him later that he was being a jerk. And even if it doesn’t, it’s important not to look the other way. My dad taught me that by example, and it’s one of the best pieces of influence he’s had over me.

  40. navigator

    Max, I was just trying to think of what you would do in that situation. It was a failed attempt at humor.

  41. Ralph

    hyperbole is good for the soul. punishing people for doing wrong is what we need to be doing more of. but make no mistake, i am not against sterilizing people. if govt is free to redistribute my income, then i feel i should have some rights in determining who and under what conditions my wealth gets redistributed.

  42. livegreen

    Hyperbole is one thing. Forced sterilization over a piece of litter goes too far, esp. when you then remove the hyperbole by confirming you are for sterilizing people.

    ABO recently received some negative feedback on one of the PSA list serves when one of the semi-regular people compared it to going to a Klan rally.

    Now I don’t agree with that statement at all, but advocating for forced sterilization, and glibly throwing around extreme solutions to crime, social injustice, poverty, personal responsibility, pollution, etc. is at the very least taking away from the wonderful job V. is doing documenting Oakland’s problems & challenges, along with the potential solutions that you all have been discussing.

    At the most it is turning some potential readers off and giving detractors an excuse to pan the ABO blog as a whole. All for something that has no potential of existing anyway.

  43. Max Allstadt

    I also heard about that accusation on the PSA listserv. It’s way off base, but there’s an interesting quirk going on here.

    Ralph isn’t a white guy, but because you can’t tell this on the comment thread, when he says stuff like this, I imagine it’s pretty easy for folks who don’t know him to visualize him as some psycho skinhead.

    I also agree that extreme statements detract from the value of this site. In reality, most of the divisions in Oakland politics are not particularly extreme in terms of the policies advocated by the different factions. The emotions behind these various positions can get extreme, but for the most part, the real crazy ideas come from scattered little fringe groups.

    If we as commenters strive to avoid being inflammatory, we do our city a much greater service.

  44. Ralph

    I don’t think it either right or even reasonable that we try to stifle personalities. The inherent problem with reading individual comments is you can not obtain a sense of the whole person. Regular followers tend to get a sense of the individual but the infrequent reader might walk away with a different interpretation. Perhaps, V can offer a personality profile section. Alternatively, a search by individual commenters could help noobs quickly figure out the personalities. But last I checked no one on the left is asking Van Jones to tone it down.

    I am probably the least liberal among us. I think we need to be NYC tough on crime. I think failure to enforce quality of life crime sends the wrong message. It is the same wrong message we send when we fail to put capital improvements into our k-12 system. Schools built in the 1950s look like they come out of 1980s Beirut. Kids aren’t stupid; they see the neglect. We are telling them we don’t care; so, why should they?

    I am not in favor of legalizing MJ, but it is a battle I am not going to win in Oakland. But if you want to know why, I refer you to a Measure OO meeting, when Paulette Hogan told council she will be the mayor who tokes. Little brown and black kids give her a 5 minute ovation. I could only wonder do they truly get the difference between medical MJ and getting high. I suspect all they heard was we can high.

    Smoking a joint may not lead to doing harder crimes, but the effects on a brown or black kid who is statistically behind curve at birth are completely different than a person not born behind the curve. Furthermore, w/o Federal regulation, you develop a nice little market for all sorts of criminal players.

    Sterilization has its genesis in the joke you need a license to drive a car but any fool can have a kid. It was mostly out of frustration over baby baking and then a few years ago there was a parent who left her infant child in a burning house while she escaped. Truth is some people just aren’t fit to be parents.

    I don’t think the city should use parking as a revenue source. I’d rather it be about transportation and business objectives.

    But I digress, I now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

    PS: I am neither from here nor of here. My sensibilities reflect my origins.

  45. V Smoothe

    Clearly, equating the discussion on this blog with “a Klan rally” is preposterous. Trying to dismiss the opinions of people you don’t agree with by comparing them to radical hate groups is not the sort of behavior one expects from civilized people, and is in fact well outside the bounds of common decency. I am certainly not about to ask my readers to censor their thoughts because someone who has clearly never read any of the discussions here never learned the basics of what is and what is not socially acceptable to say.

    Ralph contributes a great deal to our civic conversation – both through his comments here and his frequent public comment at City Council meetings. Do I agree with all his positions? Of course not. Do I think his frequent use of hyperbole will cause some people to take the rest of his comment less seriously? Probably. But that’s his choice to make, not mine.

  46. John Klein

    To the credit of all, ABO and its participants have focused on local issues and politics without discussing race. It could certainly be otherwise.

    But, as you can see, it only takes a little discussion in this regard to set people off (the Klan comparison on other sites). It hardly needs to be said that discussing race in any diverse community is going to provoke “diverse” opinions on the topic.

    I’m glad ABO has stayed out of it.