Crime Rates During the Occupy Oakland Encampment
From: Jordan, Howard
Sent: Monday, October 31, 2011 12:13 PM
To: Harmon, Reygan
Cc: Santana, Deanna; Orologas, Alexandra
Subject: FW: City of Oakland Weekly Crime Report: 24-30 Oct 2011
Fyi. Not sure how you want to share this GOOD news with MJQ. It may be counter to our statement that the Occupy Movement is negatively impacting crime in Oakland.
Howard A. Jordan
Interim Chief of Police
Oakland Police Department
This is the Oakland Police Chief’s now-infamous email to the mayor’s office regarding a large drop in the weekly crime rate, at the same time the city was claiming the Occupy encampment was causing a spike in crime. This email is damning in itself, because it implies the city knowingly invented a false excuse for its violent eviction of Occupy Oakland on October 25th.
But many within the movement have taken this email as evidence that the Occupy encampment was itself responsible for the drop in crime—while critics have suggested it was a statistical blip that had nothing to do with Occupy Oakland. To get a better view of the issue, we need to go beyond Jordan’s email—we need to look at the weekly crime rates before, during, and after the encampment, and how those rates compare to previous years. This can tell us whether the falling crime rate was a typical fluctuation or something more significant—but it can’t directly tell us the cause. For that I’ll add a few of my own observations as a longtime resident of downtown Oakland.
Source for crime data: oaklandnet.com
n this graph, the upper pink line tracks the previous three-year average crime rate for each week, while the lower blue line tracks the rate for 2011. As you can see, there’s quite a bit of fluctuation from week to week—but except for the duration of the encampment, the 2011 rate closely tracks the trend from previous years. Apart from the usual dip in September coming a week late, the up vs. down trend is a perfect match.
But the first four weeks of the Oakland Commune are a clear aberration. The normal trend in crime for October is virtually flat, but in 2011 those four weeks saw a cumulative 40% drop in crime. In fact, the fourth week—the week of the General Strike, with its notorious incidents of window-breaking and vandalism—was actually Oakland’s most crime-free week in all of 2011 (and possibly much longer—I only checked the stats through the beginning of the year).
But was Occupy Oakland really the cause of this precipitous drop in crime? Correlation doesn’t prove causation—but as a downtown resident, the cause was clear as night and day.