Crime Statistics in DC

After the news today that acquired EveryBlock, a service that tracks local news in 12 different cities and organizes news, reviews, and other localized data into searchable locales (zip codes, neighborhoods, etc), I decided to poke around a bit.

One of the areas that EveryBlock tracks is crime statistics and Washington, DC is one of the 12 cities. I discovered that according to publicly available crime data, there are over double the number of crimes reported in Northwest than their are in Southeast or Northeast.

Photo via
Photo via
In DC, the city is divided into four quadrants based around direction from the U.S. Capitol building. That means everything south of the National Mall and west of South Capitol St is considered southwest. South of East Capitol St and east of South Capitol St is Southeast and is generally considered the most violent area of the city. North of East Capitol St and east of North Capitol St is Northeast and is largely residential. North of the National Mall and west of North Capitol St is Northwest, the busiest and most upscale quadrant of the city.

I dug around for a bit, looking at data by zip code, by ward, by quadrant, by types of crime, etc. Needless to say, it was quite startling to see this chart via
Picture 4
Naturally, we can draw some conclusions based on this striking data:

  • The socialites that go to the upscale bars that pepper Northwest, are clearly more likely to commit crimes than the Hipsters who pepper the bars along H St in Northeast.
  • Traffic circles have a higher rate of inciting violence than straight roads (the bulk of DC’s many traffic circles are in NW).
  • A higher cost of alcoholic drinks is directly responsible for an uptick in theft.
  • A higher concentration of tourists in and around the National Mall and monuments escalates anger level in citizens who have a tendency to then get into altercations as frustration level boils over.
  • The Metro and access to the Metro has a negative effect on people.
  • Sunday brunches don’t have quite the positive effect everyone assumes they do.

Clearly, we can draw these conclusions. Clearly.

Or maybe we just like to jump to conclusions that support our own worldview. For instance, I really dislike Northwest because it’s pretty douchey, expensive and parking is hard to find. Therefore, my worldview is projected into these crime statistics and I can make claims such as the ones above. Finding evidence to support our own worldviews, instead of finding a worldview that matches the evidence is the American way, eh?

Yeah. It is.

Reminds me of a healthcare reform debate.

12 Replies to “Crime Statistics in DC”

  1. Or it could be that there is probably around twice the area and twice the population than in northeast or southwest. Usually the simplest answer is the correct answer.

    In healthcare, we have a system that has the lowest admin costs and that the participants loyally love – that would be medicare. So the simplest answer is to let everyone buy into medicare if they want to.

    Or you could just make up really bad analogies.

    1. In order to be more accurate, they should have presented the crime rate and not their number, the rate being the number of crimes divided with the number of inhabitants. Just like the conversion rate in PPC. The bigger the population number is, the more accurate the rate is.

  2. It’s been forever since I’ve been to DC for more than an airport layover or 95 traffic jam on my way up north, but from your map it looks like the NW part of the District is a larger area than any other. That might help explain the higher crime but I like your ideas better. :D

  3. Well, since these are *reported* crimes, you could ask some other questions:

    * Are tourists are more likely to report crimes?
    * Are tourists more likely to be victims/targeted?
    * Are people in Northwest more likely to report crimes?
    * What *types* of crimes make up each of these numbers? A murder is not the same as a Public Intoxication.

  4. That is a pretty cool website. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a lot of cities so it isn’t that useful for me, however a neat tool to say the least.

    I am assuming that normally democrats and republicans rarely cross paths except for in the NorthWest

  5. What makes a tool like EveryBlock particularly powerful is its ability to transform the amount of information by applying geography, category, and context filters – keeping only relevant pieces that affect an individual’s life.

    According to Adrian Holovaty, EverBlock leader,
    “…EveryBlock in is current incarnation is only about 5 percent of what we want to do with it.”
    I can only wander what the other 95%s is.

  6. Did you come up with those conclusions on your own? That was entertaining yet scarey to think someone might actually come up with those.

    I understand your point. Beyond that, I am curious about the breakdown of the types of crimes reported. But the keyword in this is reported.

    If I was to assume anything based on this little bit of information, I would say that the people who live in the NE, SE and SW do not consider the police to be a good resource and are to be avoided in all but the most extreme circumstances. For those residents, petty crime is a fact of life and you deal with it without the police. For the snooty residents and tourists in NW, petty crime is something that you get indignant about and don’t hesitate to call someone to complain. It doesn’t mean more crime actually happens there, it just means more people bitch about it and expect something to be done about it.

    That’s not really my world view, but it is perhaps my DC view. Clearly the right conclusion based on the data.

  7. Based on the limited data, your assumptions and conclusions are no more or less valid than any others put forth on this thread. I’m not sure how you can legitimately claim that yours are “clearly the right conclusion”… is there another more complete set of data you’re consider?

    1. Hi Keith. Forgive my paranoia if you were not commenting on my snarky “Clearly the right conclusion,” because it wasn’t really based on just the data.
      BTW my “DC view” comes from being born in DC (Columbia Hospital for Women) and having lived in the metro area for over 30 years – plus having dated two DC cops. Oh, the stories I could tell you about cops assigned to NW.

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