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BreakDown: Danville’s Crime Statistics (Part #1)

At Tuesday night’s Danville City Council work session, police chief Philip Broadfoot made an excellent presentation on Danville’s 2014 crime statistics and police deterrence tactics. We’re going to take a comprehensive look at the numbers and what he said. Let’s get into the first part of a BreakDown.

A BreakDown article is a mixture of happenings, data, analysis and commentary. Or anything else I decide to put in to it. Heh.

Let’s bring on a Big Board…

  • The first thing to know is Danville has the 3rd highest crime rate according to the statistics. That’s true. But those statistics are based on a “per 100000 people” basis. That leads to stupid factoids like “The town of Glyn Len has a population of only 113, but they have a crime rate of 11504 per 100,000 people”. Or “The town of Damascus has a population of 815 with a crime rate of 11504 per 100,000 people”.
  • The next thing to know is that the definition of crime isn’t just “violent crime”. It’s a list of 24 different offenses that includes lots of thing that don’t directly relate to the physical safety of people. That includes vandalism (796 incidents), drug offenses (687), and fraud & forgery (412). Charges like drunk in public or reckless driving (which is a Class 1 misdemeanor) aren’t part of “crimes” in this definition.
  • Bedford is #1 on the “per 100,000” people standard. Yeah, sleepy Bedford. That proves how misleading the “per 100,000” standard can be what combined with that definition of crime.
  • The Danville Police Department takes a report on every crime that an officer responds to. Broadfoot: “It’s required by department policy, it’s necessary for proper decision making, and it’s consistent with transparency.” He also said that large city police departments have policies where reports aren’t even taken for small-level crimes. He was very clear that wasn’t the case for Danville.
  • If a “shots fired” call gets dispatched out and the officer can’t find anything, then no report is taken on that. That’s common sense because a lot of dispatched calls turn out to be unfounded.
  • The number of reported crimes in Danville has gone down over the past three years. In 2012 there were 5402, 2013 had 5206 reports, and 2014 had 4954 incidents. Compare that to 6172 reported crimes in 2008. Yeah, chew on that.
  • There were only 225 felony violent crimes is 2014. That’s 3 murders, 12 abductions/kidnappings, 44 forcible sex, 58 robberies and 108 aggravated assaults… and even those numbers can be misleading somewhat. One person fired a gun into a house with eight people in it in 2014. That was eight separate aggravated assault charges just on that one incident.
  • That means that felony violent crime isn’t a big part of that #3 ranking in the “per 100,000” standard. I’m not saying that felony violent crime isn’t serious, of course. But if someone is going around saying “Danviile is #3 in crime because of all of the shootings and robberies that are happening”, that’s just not the case. It’s the minor crimes that make the numbers look bad.
  • Those 225 felony violent crimes were up from 170 in 2013 & 186 in 2012. Compare that to the 10-year high of 278. Again, chew on that.
  • If absolutely no violent crimes or infrequent crimes (examples include arson, gambling, prostitution, bribery and extortion) happened in Danville, the “per 100,000” standard would only drop Danville down to #5 on the list. Yeah… again. It’s the minor crimes that make the numbers look bad.

That’s enough numbers and observations for the first part of this BreakDown. In Part #2, I’ll continue looking at more of the statistics that Chief Broadfoot went over. That’s coming up soon here on SouthsideCentral.

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