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U-T: Violent Crime In San Diego On The Decline, But Not In All City Neighborhoods

March 29, 2019 12:48 p.m.

GUEST: Greg Moran, investigative reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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Related Story: U-T: Violent Crime In San Diego On The Decline, But Not In All City Neighborhoods


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego is consistently ranked among the safest large cities in the country. But while violent crime in the city decreased 1.5% overall, it increased by as much as 450% and one San Diego neighborhood. That's according to an analysis done by the San Diego Union Tribune. Joining me to discuss this is Greg Moran, investigative reporter for the San Diego Union Tribune. Greg, welcome. Hi, how are you? Fine, thanks. Hey, the neighborhood with a 450% increase in violent crime is bay terraces. What does that mean in terms of the number of violent crimes there?

Speaker 2: 00:37 Well, it shows that between 2013 in 2017 just the raw numbers of reported violent crimes, these are crimes that are reported to the police and they log into a computer system, you know, increase by that amount. I think it went from to to uh, forget the number, but uh, it just shows that this one section of bay terraces, it's a called a census block group. It's just cluster of streets in, in the larger Bay Terrace. His neighborhood, you know, had a, a number of instances of violent crimes that were reported and kind of spike the, uh, the number there.

Speaker 1: 01:15 Right. I guess it went from to violent crimes in 2013 to 11 and 2017. Is that right?

Speaker 2: 01:21 That's sounds about right. Yeah.

Speaker 1: 01:22 All right. And just so we're all on the same page, what crimes are included under the umbrella of violent crime?

Speaker 2: 01:28 There are known as the FBI index crimes, murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. And the last category is kind of a broad one. It can be anything from a fight to, uh, uh, use of a weapon that a injures but doesn't kill someone.

Speaker 1: 01:43 And what other areas in the city are seeing an increase in violent crimes?

Speaker 2: 01:47 What'd we did with this project? And I think one of the unique things about it was we broke the city down into what are called census block groups, which are small. I'm almost kind of street level, a neighborhood level, uh, segments of the city and looked at violent crimes that are reported in these small areas. So overall then the city, we found that about 13% buy, one of every seven of these census block groups had violent crimes, a double over the period of 2013 to 2017. Uh, and that was not entirely inconsistent with the city's data that the city police data looks at much larger areas, uh, and does not break the data down into these kinds of small block groups that we did.

Speaker 1: 02:34 So what are some of the other areas you saw an increase in?

Speaker 2: 02:37 Pretty much all over. It's a pretty good a checkerboard across the city. I mean it was, uh, a city heights, uh, North Park, certainly downtown San Diego, the central core of downtown. Uh, he has a lot of, of violent crimes, a big violent crime problem. It's parts of the beach areas, east San Diego, the college areas and things. The of these neighborhoods, they're, they're really kind of hot spots where there has been a, you know, a noticeable increase in violent crime over those five years. They might be surrounded by, you know, neighborhoods were violent. Crime went down in that same period of time. But for some reason, you know, these hotspot areas have had increases. So it's, it was fairly well dispersed across the city. It, it doesn't really reach very far north into the city and do the more affluent areas of the city. If you look at the map, which is available on our web website, you know, you'll see that a lot of the increase has kind of come in the core or the older parts of the city.

Speaker 1: 03:35 And so why is violent crime increasing in these areas while it's decreasing and the rest of the city? You know, that's a great, yeah

Speaker 2: 03:42 question. And that was really one of the, the, the, the reasons why we embarked on this project. We wanted to see a, first of all where, uh, areas, um, we're in the city that had not experienced this overall, uh, and pretty remarkable decline in violent crime. And then go there and talk to people and kind of find out what their experiences were and what their thoughts were. It's difficult to pinpoint one particular reason. Each neighborhood is different. Is We pointed out in this story, it could be, you know, something as a small, as a single house that is a maybe as a troubled tenants or is a kind of a locus for a criminal activity. It could be a neighborhood that has a business in it, a liquor store, convenience store that you know, kind of attracts or is a focus for criminal activity. It's difficult to pinpoint one reason, but I think, you know, overall in our experience it was these are places that, you know, generally, historically have been under resourced by the city. They, uh, they, they do have a policing presence, but they lack some of the other kinds of civic amenities that other parts of town. Yeah.

Speaker 1: 04:50 And talk to us a bit more about the process your team went through to come to these conclusions. Well, we

Speaker 2: 04:56 collected, um, crime reports, uh, as reported by the city into the regional justice database. Uh, our data reporter Lauren Schroeder worked with Sandag over a period of, of years really to get those reports in a form that, that we could analyze ourselves. That was really the point of that project is we want it to get ahold of the raw data and do our own analysis. We're able to do that. Uh, she was able to to, to get uh, all the crime reports and then we filtered out from those only the violent crimes that were reported in that period of time. It came out to about 22,000 records or so. And then the unique part of this is we were then able to plot it on a map, again using the census block group areas, these very small kind of intimate areas and then run some analysis and see where we ended up.

Speaker 1: 05:47 And why did the team decide to analyze violent crime rates by census block groups? Isn't that quite a small area? It is a, and it, it was for a couple

Speaker 2: 05:58 of reasons. One was we wanted to get the reporting kind of as close to the street level as we could. It's not to say that the other kinds of data reporting that you hear are wrong, it's just that they tend to look at a broader area of the city, either by city police beat or city council district or these other kind of larger areas. When you do that, you tend to wash out or not notice as much these smaller areas where, you know, crime may have or did increase. Um, and, and we want it to identify those areas and to, you know, kind of give those people sort of a voice in this because really our thought was, you know, yeah, crime is down overall, but not everywhere. And in, in the story, we kind of want it to go to the, not everywhere part of the city and see what it looked like. I been speaking with Greg Moran at the San Diego Union Tribune. Thank you very much, Greg. Sure.

Speaker 3: 06:54 [inaudible].