A crime analysis team at Portland State collaborated with the Portland Police
Bureau to create an accessible database of common crimes in Portland over the past 20 years. The database features include summaries of annual trends of reported incidents, charts depicting what day and time crimes are most likey to occur, and hot spot animation maps for each specific offense. Compiling the database revealed unanticipated trends.
“A majority of Portlanders and a majority of citizens across the country believe that crime is going up,” said Katelyn Bonn, a graduate student on the crime analysis team. “In fact, crime has been dropping very steadily in the past 20 years. What we wanted to do was create an interactive website where people can go and get real crime data and information about their own neighborhood, their own city, in an accessible format.”
Thirteen common index crimes were selected for the current database, including assault, burglary, vandalism and bicycle theft.
“We chose to leave off the big ones—murder and rape—but it’s a good thing, actually,” Bonn said. “We just don’t have enough data in Portland because we don’t have enough of those crimes.”
Bicycle theft is the only crime in the database with increasing rates. In 2013, 2,307 bike thefts were reported compared to the 1,260 bikes reported stolen in 1995.
“In these 13 [categories of] offenses, a majority of them have gone down significantly since 1995, with one very notable exception, and that is bike theft,” Bonn said. “Overall, we’ve had a 50 percent increase [in bike theft] since 1995. That is the only crime that happened with, but certainly pertinent to a lot of Portlanders who care for their bikes quite a bit.”
Despite the increase in bike thefts, the crime analysis team and Portland Police Bureau data revealed that Portland’s crime rates are lower than expected.
“The biggest thing that we want people to take away from the website is as citizens, we’re safer than we think we are,” Bonn said. “On the whole, we can feel much safer walking around our city than we’ve been led to believe in the past.”
Bonn said she hopes PSU students and Portland residents will visit the website and see this for themselves.
The database can be found at pdx.edu/crime-data.