Shay Castle Profile picture
Mar 2 67 tweets 9 min read
OK, our crime update.
Presentation here:…
TLDR: Boulder has a lower rate of violent crime than the U.S. and Colorado, but a higher rate of property crime.

A few crimes have increased in recent years, as we'll talk about. But again: Overall, a low violent crime rate, even with the increases.
That's important bc all these graphs show an increase in crime (except for bike thefts). But in some cases, the numbers we're talking about are literally between 0 and 10, like robbery.
Property crime tho, again, is higher than Colorado and the U.S. rates.
"With every crime reported, there is community harm," Chief Maris Herold says.
Herold introducing BPD's new data analyst, Dr. Daniel Reinhard.
"While Boulder's violent crime rate has historically been lower than the nation's," Reinhard says, it's increased substantially, as has Colorado's. (It's still lower than the U.S. and Colorado)
Reinhard moving so quickly through these, so I'll just share a few slides comparing Boulder's rate to CO and U.S.
I mentioned property and violent crime, but car theft is also higher in Boulder (and CO) for some reason (CO higher than Boulder)
Reinhard: Most aggravated assaults (which often include weapons and also assault against police officers) occur from Oct. 20 to the end of the year. Most of them outside, and most in the evening or night.
Reinhard: Identity theft and criminal impersonation are recorded as property crime, which helps explain the increase in 2020 and 2021. That includes things like fraud for gov't benefits — like unemployment.

That's a trend all over the U.S.
Burglary is trending up slightly; commercial more than residential. Commercial (like from biz) is also more common.
Particularly a problem in downtown Boulder, Reinhard says. Some serial burglars were arrested in January.

As we've learned before, most crime is committed by a very small # of individuals.
Also, as we're talking about theft from biz (which is not the same as burglary) I feel duty bound to note that businesses steal far more from their workers each year than the public steals from them.…
But those types of crime are seen v differently than the crime we're talking about. And handled differently, too, by completely different systems.
That's a systemic issue. I'm not gonna solve it in this thread; just trying to note it.
Back to the only types of crime we seem to care about....
A crime that's decreasing: Bicycle theft!

"Bikes are visible, valuable, accessible and easy to move," Reinhard says.

Avg. value of bike stolen in Boulder: $1,500
The decrease in bike thefts is being credited to some coordinated efforts across the region to bust up some bike theft and burglary rings.…
Reinhard answering some qs that were sent in by councilwoman Speers, that mostly revolved around: Why was the data presented this way?
Reinhard: These slides are meant to show how certain crimes are increasing over time. "Establishing causality is tricky."
Why they didn't compare many of these crimes to nat'l and state stats (just broad categories like property or violent crime): There are several dif measures of population, Reinhard explains. Just who lives here is not the only or best measure.
We compared what we did bc there was good federal and state data on it, Reinhard says (in many more and fancier words)
Reinhard: It's difficult to understand the effect of the pandemic. "The pandemic seemed to change things that then changed crime."

Like keeping biz and downtown empty of ppl, which presented more opportunity. And also the economic crisis many were in.
Friend: Can you remind us what is the definition of a violent crime?

Reinhard: Aggravated assault, murder, robbery and sexual assault
Friend: Why did we highlight just two of those? (aggravated and assault)

Reinhard: For space reasons, we didn't talk about every type of crime. Sexual assault from 2017 to 2021 was stable, and it's relatively rare in Boulder. They don't tend to be more than 5-10 per month.
Friend: Why track and share robbery and not sex assault then? When both are rare and low numbers?

Reinhard: I'm more than happy to include it in the future. It was for space concerns.
Reminder: Sexual assault is rarely reported. And most often (~90% of the time) committed by someone the victim knows.
Friend: What's included in property crime?
Reinhard: All theft and larceny, burglary and motor vehicle theft. Boulder's include more categories, but I tried to match data from Denver. This is why comparisons are hard.
"There might be 7 kinds of burglary" but national standards are different from Colorado law, Reinhard says. "Some of this requires more time than a 20-min presentation."
Friend: "All the slides we're showing are crime rates that are going up. I don't want us to be highlighting just the ones that are going up if there are some that are going down. I think we could be frightening ppl or inflaming if we're only highlighting upward trends."
Friend: What's a person offense?
Reinhard: 8-9 kinds of offenses, things like murder, non-negligent manslaughter, dif kinds of assault, intimidation / menacing, dif kinds of robbery, sexual crimes
Friend: So we're showing that in 2 dif ways, bc a lot of that is included in violent crime, yeah?

Herold: "The majority of crimes are seeing increases. The ones that have remained stable are sexual assaults and some of the disorderly, quality of life crimes bc of bar closures."
Herold: "Our intention is not to frighten the community. My intention is to be transparent about crime and how it's impacting the community. We are seeing significant harm because of crime."
Joseph: I'd also like to hear about where crime is going down or things are going well, bc that's also part of your work I'd imagine.

Is CU included in this data?
Herold: "I don't want anybody here or in the community to think I'm only reporting on bad things." The crimes we've had issues with were in this presentation.

CU is its own jurisdiction; they have their own stats. But we're sharing data.
Winer: We did have some good news. Bike thefts went down and our police officers saved lives.

I first want to thank the police officers. My "big dream" is that the officers work with the community.
I feel that's what is important to you, Winer says to Chief Herold. You want to make the police dept better; you're giving them DEI training. We thank you, we appreciate you.
Winer: "It's better to live in reality." If there's increasing crime, we need to know about it so we can do things like lock our car doors.
I mean, I would say you should do that all the time, but that's just me...
How can we change the trend of crime at Table Mesa Park & Ride? Winer asks (lots of theft from cars including catalytic converters)
Herold: It's not designed the same as most park and rides along 36. But we're working on it: handling out pamphlets, putting them on cars. "We do have serious issues there."
Did not know this: RTD has its own police dept...?
Herold said "they"... I'm assuming they = RTD but perhaps I'm wrong.
But with some lighting changes and other efforts, I'm confident it will improve, Herold says.
Wallach: Why are criminals targeting older cars? That seems counterintuitive.

Reinhard: Two hypothesis is that older cars are less likely to have theft prevention tech. And older vehicles are of less value, so they draw dif criminal chargers. But we don't know definitively.
Wallach: You mentioned vacancies in the police dept as a challenge. (14% of positions empty, Herold said earlier) Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Herold: Yes. We've got officers in training now. "By this time next year, we'll be in better shape."
"It is extremely hard to recruit for police officers right now," Herold says. All over CO. We're giving lateral bonuses. Retaining the officers we have has also been problematic.
Deputy Chief Weinheimer: "It's a local trend, it's a national trend." We have 27 vacancies. About 50 applicants, when in past years we'd have hundreds.

We're trying to hire laterally "but so is every other agency."
Herold: I think the car thefts speaks volumes to who is being harmed by these crimes. Older cars don't draw as harsh of penalties as newer, high-value ones.

"Who are the real victims." It's not people driving nice, new cars.
Folkerts: The trend lines are concerning. But given the same data, I'm not sure I'd come up with the same trend lines. I have a lot of qs about how we got there. When can we expect a more complex analysis?
Not sure there was an answer to that other than... soon? After the dept implements a new approach to focus on high-crime areas.
Folkerts: I'd like to see data on response times, to see how it relates with these other numbers? And time allocation of officers? How much of the dept time is being spent responding to certain types of crime?
Herold: Calls for service have remained steady for the past 10 years, but the complexity has changes dramatically.
And yes, a staffing analysis has been done and will be presented at a future date.
Speer: Thanks for presenting ways we can prevent and lower crime — Lock your bikes, your car doors, and don't leave your keys in your car.
Speer: Understanding the statistical significance of the trends that are potentially in the data is critical. There's a lot of variability — seasonal, the pandemic. The variability in those graphs are really large, and the trends we are seeing are much smaller.
It's critical to look at what's happening to crime over time, Speer says, and where we are now. That provides context.

"It will help us as council think about where are places we can impact on crime more."
"If we know certain things are statistically significant and others are naturally variable," Speer says, that would impact those decisions.
"I'm not questioning the data. But descriptive statistics don't tell us ... what is happening with crime over time," Speer says. "It's likely some of those trends are significant in a statistical sense" but from this, we just don't know.
Speer: I'm not dismissing the significance of crime on victims. I'm talking statistical significance and its importance to governance.
Herold: "I couldn't agree more." Invites Speer, like she did with Folkerts, to "come in" and go over the data. And says that once someone is impacted by crime, they are never the same.
Yates: Do you need law changes or budget changes?
Herold: "I don't need neither. I just need the support of council moving forward. This is very unusual times in this country. We're going to impact crime and disorder. I just need your support."
Yates: "Thank you Chief, and you do have my support."
Benjamin (another data nerd like Speer): I think we need to look at possible causes when we look at these trends. What's happening elsewhere in the nation and with larger societal changes? When it comes to things like car thefts, how do our rates compare to other cities?
That ends this crime update.
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Mar 2
Yes, I am still here. Next: When will council return to chambers for meetings? COVID transmission is still high but falling pretty quickly.…
Apparently April 5 at the very earliest for council, and May 3 for the public. As you'll see in that presentation.
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And even in-person meetings would be hybrid, with some council members, staff and public able to participate remotely.
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Next up: A quick review of plans for a new Fire Station No. 3
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Judge Linda Cooke is here to give a quarterly update on the municipal court, including a super-quick run down on what muni court is and what they do.…
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This work is funded by a federal grant.
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Next we're talking: How to pay for the city's climate work.…
The city currently has a few mechanisms for this:
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