The FBI collects crime data from cities and counties all across America. They tabulate reported crimes and print annual publications called the Uniformed Crime Report or UCR. One must consider however not all victims call the police to report a crime. Nor does government collect all crimes such as identity theft or cybercrime.
The heart of the FBI data are offenses known to law enforcement. These offenses are generally captured in crime reports by the police and entered into a records management system (RMS). That data is sent to the FBI for inclusion into the FBI annual UCR report. You will note there are two important parts to FBI reporting: violent crime and property crime. Another report important to me is the Law Enforcement Officer Killed and Assaulted or LEOKA.
Some people are tempted to rank cities and compare one location to another. Alarm companies are famous for ranking cities to sell alarm systems. The FBI warns against ranking and gives advice on the proper use of crime data. Not ranking makes sense. Cities that are a county seat, business center, home to a large university, possess attractions such as an amusement park and other tourist attractions, and host the county jail will naturally have more crime because of more people. There is currently no method to calculate daily population as opposed to inhabitants. That does not mean however that crime cannot be reduced.
The key is understanding the data and working to reduce crime as a result. Aggravated assaults increased in the first quarter of the year while other crimes such as sexual assault and burglary declined. Smart cops and analysts ask why and look for clues and examine what others have done to be successful.
For example, if a sizeable portion of reported assaults takes place after the close of bars in parking lots, then it makes sense to reduce crime by preventing assaults at bars. If some assaults are domestic violence related, then adapting Chula Vista PD’s efforts to stem the tide of domestic violence through proactive visits to known offenders. If gang shootings are the problem then leveraged deterrence is the best path. There are several ways to reduce crime. Giving our officers time to problem solve and proactively fight crime is the next hurdle.
So, how does crime look in Santa Cruz…? Here is the data from the first half of the year. Caution should be exercised. Six months of data do not make a trend.