Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Safety vs. Streetcar

A study released Sunday shows that the northern region of the proposed streetcar route (blue line above) runs through "the most dangerous neighborhood" in America. Several local apologists have already bashed the study as being intellectually dishonest, outdated, "crap."

There's no indication the study group had any animosity toward OTR, or that their methods were somehow faulty. They simply sought to identify the worst crime pockets in the country by dividing the number of violent crimes by population for each sub-neighborhood in the nation. For crime data, they used stats routinely gathered by law enforcement; no indication of bias there. For population data, they used figures generated by the Census Bureau; no reason to suspect them of subversion either. The highlighted area above is Cincinnati's census tract #16, which when they did the math, happened to have the highest ratio of violent crimes per head count in the USA.

So what does that tell us? Nothing we didn't already know really. That particular area of Over the Rhine has had a crime problem for a long time. Sheriff Leis even went out of his way to send special patrols there to augment city forces two years ago. Those patrols were widely praised at the time for a significant reduction in crime. The study range, incidently, encompasses the patrol period, which leaves one wondering how much worse it was beforehand. But then again, it's hard to beat #1. Clearly we have a long way to go.

The larger question is the city's response. Faced with this enormous long term problem, our Mayor's answer is not to step-up prevention or enforcement, but to build a streetcar. Now that might be a reasonable answer to a pressing transportation problem. It might even slightly boost economic development efforts. But nobody's stupid enough to see a streetcar as a recommended remedy to such crime levels.

As we've been saying all along...focus on the basics first. Clean up the crime, fix up the buildings, and then if city officials want to dabble in luxuries like streetcars, they can ask the people who pay the bills if they want it. Until then, the streetcar remains a grossly irresponsible proposal.


  1. The Metro runs through OTR is that grossly irresponsible as well?

  2. All the more reason why a 5 billion
    dollar streetcar is a waste of time, money, and energy.

  3. Sending a streetcar through that war zone is like putting out the bait for a hunter.

  4. COAST likes cooked numbers. Is Bernie Madoff your patron saint ?

  5. These aren't COAST numbers, they were done by an outside group.

  6. ^ He didn't say they were COAST's numbers.

  7. The study used data collected from 2005-2007. The neighborhood has changed considerably since then.

  8. The methods are not particularly faulty, their interpretation and reporting is.

    The study clearly stated what data they used and how they analyzed it. I haven't heard anyone question the math, just how the numbers were then interpreted.

    From the Enquirer's story:

    "There is a 1 in 4 chance in becoming a crime victim in that area in one year's time, the site reports."

    This is untrue because the study is based on violent crimes against anyone in the neighborhood vs. population in the neighborhood. The study didn't cross check residences of the victims to make sure they lived there.

    "OTR most dangerous"

    This is not true because it is based on a subsection of the neighborhood. If numbers were reviewed for the entire neighborhood it would not make the list.

    The age of the data (2005-2007) makes sense based on availability of statistics for an organization trying to run national numbers but as the local bloggers pointed out, more recent local numbers indicate the areas are improving.

    It is unlikely that the site had any animosity to OTR but they need to be more careful about reporting their data and our local media outlets must do a better job of reporting the full story and not just rehashing what a website says. That's lazy journalism.

  9. The study projected that there will be 457 violent crimes in Census Tract #16 alone, yet there were only 390 violent crimes in the entire neighborhood of OTR in 2007. And Census Tract #16 is about one-quarter of the OTR neighborhood. So clearly there are errors with their methods and/or the outdated nature of their data.

    Also, there's the fact that the FBI specifically says not to use this data for crime prediction because it may lead to "simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents." And that's exactly what has happened here. Their simplistic and incomplete analysis has adversely affected the OTR community, in spite of all of the positive development and continuous improvement of the neighborhood.

  10. Once again, COAST doesn't seem to get it. That is the very reason you put a streetcar in. It sends a message that we aren't just rolling over and letting crime dictate what we do. I challenge COAST members to drive through those areas and see what is happening, the change that is already on its way. Drive down Vine Street. People don't invest in routes that are next to bus lines, or bridges, period. People invest in concrete solid infrastructure.

  11. I love what COAST stands for but you guys have it WRONG on the streetcar.

  12. Yo, what up Coast? Thanks for the link and the shout out!

  13. YP snobs 2007 - It is extremely urgent we pass the Jail Tax. Crime is terrible around here. If only we'd get the crime under control everything else would be great around here.

    YP snobs 2009 - We don't have a crime problem around here. It's a figment of your imagination. It's extremely urgent we get the Streetcars. Once we get those the whole city will take off.


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