Wednesday, January 9, 2013

UChicago Crime Report: CPD data confirms Hyde Park violent crime drop

I received a great comment from a reader the other day that encouraged me to write this post. In the comment, "siltsaltsand" explained that he used CPD data to come to a different set of conclusions about Hyde Park crime, showing that crime might actually be higher in 2012 than 2011. Because I know that UCPD statistics are often incomplete, it seemed very possible to me that the CPD data sources might show a different picture of things than those from UChicago.

To get a better sense of this picture, I used Chicago DataPortal numbers to look at violent crime incidents in the Hyde Park area. The data on that site are "extracted from the Chicago Police Department's CLEAR (Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting) system" (Source), and should reflect exactly what is reported to the CPD. For incidents, I looked at the following index crimes:
  • Robbery
  • Battery
  • Assault
  • Sexual Assault
  • Murder
For the area of my search, I specified the 3 beats (multi-block areas in the district designated as beats by the CPD) that best constituted "Hyde Park". The map below shows that 3 beats that I looked at.

(Map taken from ClearPath Chicago Police Department website)
You will notice that some beats were omitted from the analysis, most notably Beat 0222 (above E. Hyde Park Blvd) and 0223 (above E. Hyde Park and west of Cottage). These are beats that, although part of Kenwood and Hyde Park in a municipal sense, are home to very, very few students and University community members. They also include areas that are not historically part of the Hyde Park area, as it is understood by most residents and Chicagoans. Indeed, the inclusion of Beat 0223 might be a bit misleading, because it includes incidents that occurred on the border of Washington Park, an area that is not technically part of the neighborhood. Even so, students definitely use the park, and those incidents would be valuable information for us to know.

The included three beats, Beats 235, 234, and 233, represent the vast majority of Hyde Park residents and UChicago community members. The areas outside of these beats have much lower income and property values, and are really not part of the Hyde Park/University area persay. As the City of Chicago defines it, Hyde Park is really constituted by the boundaries of East Hyde Park Blvd. (North), 61st Street (South), Cottage Grove (West), and Lake Michigan (East). The beats above best represent that area, both from the municipal perspective and the community perspective.

Between January 1 and December 27, 2011, there were a total of 758 violent incidents in the Hyde Park area (Beats 235, 234, and 233). In 2012, however, there were only 537 such incidents recorded during that time period. This represents an impressive 29% decrease in area violent crime, far more than the 12% decrease suggested by the UCPD data.

The table below summarizes the totals by year for each index crime mentioned. All crimes occurred in the Hyde Park area (235, 234, and 233).

Crime # incidents
# incidents
Robbery 82 107+30%
Battery 521 294-44%
Assault 137 119-13%
Sexual Assault
11 11+0%
Homicide 7 3-57%
TOTALS 758 537-29%

Of all the entries in this table, the most interesting are Battery and Robbery. Battery incidents experienced a huge decrease from 2011 to 2012. On the other hand, there were also 25 additional robberies in 2012, another crime that has big implications for public safety.

Overall, however, the picture is extremely positive for both our neighborhood and our University. Violent crime continue to decrease in the area, including those crimes that are most likely to impact students. Although robberies increased, this was more than offset by the decrease in battery and assault. Additional patrolling, citizen vigilance, and police intelligence will likely make it possible to have yet another reduction at the end of 2013. Speaking specifically on robberies, my guess is that the increase in handheld device technology led to a similar increase in robberies (although I admittedly have no numerical evidence for that). That is to say, the problem is not that there are more robbers in the area, but rather that there is much more opportunity for robbery.

In my last post, I used UCPD data to show that UChicago experienced a 12% drop in violent crime. Here, we see that CPD data tells a similar, perhaps even more heartening, story about area violence. A 29% drop is huge, one that Superintendent McCarthy would move mountains to say is true of the entire city. In 2012 as in 2011, Hyde Park just remains a safe place to live and learn. 

As a final note, this inquiry also highlighted the glaring discrepancies between CPD and UCPD data. In robberies alone, the UCPD only recorded 71 and 50 robberies in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The CPD recorded 82 and 107. As the UCPD reminds us in its website, their data only reflects crimes reported directly to their offices, which might account for the differences. Even so, it is good to know for the future that the UCPD incident reports have some sizable reporting gaps that could definitely affect later analyses.

1 comment :

  1. Sheridan, thanks for going into more detail. I still think it's important to compare Hyde Park/South Kenwood (i.e., the portion of Kenwood bounded by 51st, 47th, cottage grove, and the lake) in 2011 with HP/SK in 2012. A large number of community members live in the houses and apartment complexes in South Kenwood. Is it possible to compare census tract areas corresponding to Hyde Park/South Kenwood (390400, 390500, 390600, 390700, 410400, 410300, 410200, 410100, 410500, 410600, 410700, 410800, 410900, 411400, 411300, 411200, 411100, and 411000) in 2011 with those areas in 2012? But your overall presentation of data makes it clear that reported incidents in Hyde Park have decreased.

    The thing that really caught my eye was the decrease in Battery. I wonder how much of that is attributable to an increased security presence in Hyde Park. Assuming that the numbers are sound, that's a massive change. Again, it'd be worth comparing the numbers from previous years (maybe 2001 through 2012).