Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Is crime up in Madison Park?

Good question. Unfortunately, there is no official data available to answer the question. Why? Because the City of Seattle has not published any crime statistics since June 2008, and there are currently no East Precinct reports available online for months later than December 2007. The supposed reason for this lack of reporting is that a change in the precinct boundaries has made it difficult to do comparative studies of crime in the City. However, this is not much of an explanation for why overall crime numbers are not now available for the new precincts or even for the City as a whole.

So crime may well be on the increase in Madison Park, but who knows? What we do know, however, is that historically, Madison Park is not considered a high-crime area relative to much of the rest of the City, especially that part of Seattle south of the ship canal. The total number of annual major crimes per square mile in the neighborhood has been well below the 500-incident threshold every year since the late 1990s, placing Madison Park squarely in the bottom crime-risk tier of the five-category scale used by the City. In contrast, several areas of downtown that fit into the top risk category suffer with major crimes at a level of 3,700 or more incidents per square mile annually.

We may feel, based on anecdotes, that crime is headed in the wrong direction, but in fact the crime trend for the Madison Park neighborhood (census tract 63) was actually in the right direction to the point reporting stopped at the end of 2007 (see chart above). What happened in 2008 and thereafter is apparently a secret known only to a select few police statisticians. And they’re not saying.

I asked the media relations officer of the Seattle Police if he thought it was acceptable for the City not to have current Seattle crime statistics available to the public, and he agreed that it was certainly not a good thing. But he expressed the hope that this information would be made available to everyone very soon, maybe this week!

Don't hold your breath. I discovered an entry posted seven months ago by a blogger for another East Precinct neighborhood. In it he reported that the Police were saying monthly crime information would be available beginning the following month. Didn’t happen.

If and when Madison Park crime information is ever again made available to the City’s taxpayers and crime victims, you will see the report here.

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