In an attempt to save most of my data analysis for my research paper, I will keep this blog post brief. I spent much of week eight of my senior project analyzing crime data in San Francisco’s Mission District. Using my own statistical observations (that I gathered during my trip to the Mission District), as well as property crime data, I was able to project overall quality-of-life crime rates for the Mission District. From my analysis, it seems as though theft and vehicle-related property crimes are the most prominent crimes in the area. However, violent crimes such as assault are the third most prevalent. If we were to follow the lines of the Broken Windows Theory, we would predict that an increase in misdemeanor arrests relating to these offenses would decrease the number of felony crimes committed in the community. However, it seems to me that such an assumption does not always hold true. After comparing crime data in the Inner Mission District with that of other communities (holding factors such as median income, rent burden, ethnic background, and education constant), I found that some areas with lower levels of observed disorder and quality-of-life offenses had higher felony crime rates than the Inner Mission District. Explanations for this finding could be the increased tourism in the area as a result of the many murals that line the community’s walls, or the unison that Latin American culture brings to the community. While I will delve further into these explanations in my week ten blog post, even a simple analysis of my research has taught me that the key to reducing crime in impoverished communities may lie in the intangibles.
While the Mission District is relatively safer than some other neighborhoods in San Francisco, it is important to note that crime rates in the community are still very high. The San Francisco Police Department claims that many of the Mission District’s lower-level crime problems are caused by the lack of patrol officers on duty in the community. The department cites that only one in ten reports concerning serious crimes result in an arrest, and that only two percent of car break-ins are caught by the police. The department also emphasizes the need to deploy more Neighborhood Property Crime Units in the area. However, even with these units in place, the Mission District experienced a six percent increase in smash-and-grabs, a fourteen percent increase in theft, and a twenty-two percent increase in bicycle theft. Perhaps, a greater focus on retail parking lots would allow for a great amount of vehicle-related property crime to be prevented. Even so, there does not seem to be any empirical evidence that such practices would have any effect on felony crimes in the area. Regardless of the potential solutions to the Mission District’s property crime problems, the community seems to be an outlier among the rest of the city’s neighborhoods: the SFPD’s community-centered program has reduced crime in almost all other neighborhoods. So, why wasn’t the policy effective in the Mission District? The best answer that has been provided to us is that the Mission District is “complicated.” Although community-centered programs may work in many urban communities, it is obvious that police departments need to build upon such programs in areas such as the Mission District. During the next few weeks of my senior project research, I will attempt to answer my own question; however, in order to do so, I will need a better understanding of life in San Francisco’s many neighborhoods.
In week ten, I will perform an in-depth analysis of various neighborhoods in San Francisco. I will isolate variables such as tourism, income, and education, and attempt to come up with a better policing solution for “complicated” neighborhoods such as the Mission District. I have also connected with many district officials, attorneys, and police officers over the week, and plan to interview some of them next week.