The Cranky Taxpayer

The Cranky Taxpayer

Crime Rate


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The Virginia State Police publish an annual report on Crime in Virginia.  They count the "Type A" offense reports by police unit:

Arson
Assault
Bribery
Burglary
Counterfeiting/Forgery
Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property
Drug/Narcotic Offenses
Embezzlement
Extortion/Blackmail
Fraud Offenses
Gambling Offenses
Homicide
Kidnapping/Abduction
Larceny/Theft
Motor Vehicle Theft
Pornography/Obscene Material
Prostitution Offenses
Robbery
Sex Offenses, Forcible & Nonforcible
Stolen Property Offenses
Weapon Law Violations

These data have their peculiarities.  The VSP reports the number of offense reports, not offenses reported, so some of the count includes multiple offenses.  Where an incident includes more than one offense, they report the worst.  Thus, an incident where an offender murders someone while spitting on the sidewalk and his accomplice is selling drugs, the incident is counted as a murder.

They also report the numbers by police agency.  Thus, there is an entry both for the Farmville Police and the Prince Edward Sheriff, despite their overlap in the Town.  They also list incidents reported to the State Police; for example, the Richmond Police Department shows 19,116 incident reports and the State Police show 125 in Richmond.  The report also includes data for the colleges, the Capitol Police, and state agencies such as the ABC Board.  Finally, the small jurisdictions produce some weird statistics because even a small variation can produce a large change in the crime rate.  As well, in some small jurisdictions, the State Police report a significant fraction of the incidents; for instance, in Craig County in 2013, the sheriff reported 39 incidents while the State Police reported 22.

I produced the data below by leaving out the data for the State Police (7,361 incidents) and State agencies (7,900 incidents).  I also left out the jurisdictions with populations <10,000, 20,769 incidents.  For perspective, that's a total of 36,030, 8.9% of the 403,314 total incidents.

Here, then, are the remaining 2013 data (pdf), expressed as Type A offense reports per 100,000 population vs. population.[1] 

2013 offense reports per 100K vs population

Richmond is the gold square.  The red diamonds, from the left, are the peer jurisdictions of Hampton, Newport News, and Norfolk.

There is no particular reason to expect these data to fit a straight line but Excel is happy to fit one, as you see.  The slope suggests that the rate (per hundred thousand population) increases by about 180 for a population increase of 100,000.  The R2, however, tells us that population explains less than 1% of the variance in the crime rate, i.e., I wasted computer power to fit the line.

Here are the data for the "leaders." Among the jurisdictions with populations >10,000, we are eighth in the state, with a rate 1.85 times the state average. 

Department Population Rate
ROANOKE CITY POLICE DEPAR 98913 12718.24
DANVILLE POLICE DEPARTMEN 43912 11807.7
PORTSMOUTH LAW ENFORCEMEN 96871 10877.35
COLONIAL HEIGHTS POLICE D 17073 9840.09
FREDERICKSBURG POLICE DEP 27945 9629.62
CITY OF MARTINSVILLE POLI 13706 9506.78
HOPEWELL POLICE DEPARTMEN 22707 9362.75
RICHMOND POLICE DEPARTMEN 211172 9052.33
NORFOLK POLICE DEPARTMENT 246392 8884.62
WINCHESTER POLICE DEPARTM 26961 8816.43
State 8,260,405 4882.50

(Blame the cut off words on the VSP database that appears to truncate at 25 characters)

Improving on a 35% improvement since 2001, the 2013 Richmond rate dropped in 2012 from 2.05 to 1.85 times the statewide average:

Type A Incidents per 100K by Year

Viewed another way, Richmond's 2012 rate of 9052 per 100,000 is equivalent to just over 0.9 incident reported per 100 population.

The Type A total is driven by the property crime numbers: Typically, the larceny, vandalism, and motor vehicle theft numbers will account for 2/3 of the Type A total.  To see how violent and drug crime is doing, we have to look underneath the totals.

When we do that, we see that the rate of simple assaults dropped while aggravated assaults remained nearly flat.

Note: This graph and those immediately below report the raw counts of offenses reported in Richmond, not the count per 100K.  Throughout this period, the Richmond population has been near 200,000, with very little change, so you can get close to the rates per 100K by dividing these numbers by two.

The drug and weapon law counts dropped after a bump in 2012; robbery continued a long downward trend.

The "other" (non forcible) sex crimes, kidnapping, rape, and murder rates all continued to bounce a small amount but mostly decreased.  The decreases from the early 2000's are remarkable.

For a list of the hot blocks in Richmond see this page.  And see this page for data showing a nice improvement in Forest Hill.

Much of Richmond's plethora of crime is drug-related

To complement the still outrageous crime rate, our schools are among the worst in the state and our public housing agency maintains a sanctuary for crime on its property.  To support all this dysfunction, we pay some of the highest taxes in the state.  Go figure.


[1] Mr. Westerberg of the State Police kindly furnished a copy of the data as an Excel spreadsheet so I didn't have to copy the numbers out of the PDF file on the web.

 

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Last updated 06/11/14
Please send questions or comments to John Butcher