Thursday, January 13, 2011

In support of the Congress

After Saturday's shooting of an Arizona congresswoman, those in Congress are re-assessing their safety and Capitol police are reviewing security measures.

But as this note left on the office of Rep. Jerry McNerney proves, not everyone is out to get someone.

If you can't make it out, it says, "Not everyone is crazy out there! We care about you. Fellow Tenant. "
Sarah Hersh, McNerney's communications director and the person who sent the image to me, said "We were all very touched by its sentiment." Especially after a very tough week in the halls of the Capitol.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

At the heart of the crime problem

I thought I'd re-post this comment left on the Second Thoughts blog, because it illustrates one of the crucial issues regarding crime in Tracy. Namely, accurate reporting of crime so we actually know what we're dealing with:

I have learned from personal experience that a factor is how the police choose to categorize a crime is a factor.
I had a break in attempt in a commercial business, one small window in the glass storefront was smashed, there was no glass break sensor. The alarm company told me the interior motion detector was tripped. Nothing was stolen. The police categorized it as vandalism.
I complained to the officer who came to write the report, to no avail.When he departed and I was waiting for the glass company, I then finally took time to rewind the surveillance cams, which caught the perpetrator walking inside, then suddenly turning and running out as the alarm sounded.
I called the PD to come back and showed them the video, and they had to agree to change it to burglary.
~ Anonymous

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

That new library smell

As students began to file to the front desk of the new Tracy High library this morning, I asked generally if they liked their new building.

The response:

"Yeah, it has that new smell," said one.

"What did the old one smell like?" I asked.

"I dunno," chimed in another kid. "But this one has a smell."

Now there's a sight you don't see every day...

My thoughts, as a city of Tracy pickup drove away from City Hall with the city's Christmas tree — wrapped snugly in cellophane two-thirds of the way up — standing straight up in the bed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

We're working on a story that tells us how safe Tracy is, statistically speaking. What we've heard so far, officially, is that crime is down in Tank Town across the board.

The numbers, a police spokesman has said, is proof.

However, with several gang-member-on-gang-member attacks in the past month and nine homicides in the past 20 months, that isn't necessarily the public perception.

So, how can raw emotion and raw numbers be so different?

First, it's a well-known psychological phenomenon that people seize on the bad incidents and ignore the others. (It doesn't help that media outlets, including the Press, publicize the shootings, stabbings and other instances of violence.) It's an inaccuracy that comes from recalling powerful anecdotes and assuming those individual instances represent a general trend.

Second, it could be in the police reporting. Police have a set of guidelines for when they write up a report, and when something is documented as a crime. Certain situations are mandatory for police to write up. Other times, it depends on a victim's willingness to make a report. And other times, it's at the officer's discretion. So there could be instances that might be reported in some cases, and not in others.

Third, it could just be that, though crime overall is decreasing, there are more instances of violence that simply stand out.

Or fourth, it could be that a lot of the crime that's happening in the city isn't being reported. For instance, just the other day, my car had a rock the size of a grapefruit thrown through the front window while it was parked out in front of my house in Stockton, where I just moved to. (The perp didn't even have the decency to rip out the stereo.) But I didn't report the incident to police, because there was nothing they could do about. As a result of my not wanting to spend time on the phone, that definite crime will never be part of the official record. I'm sure I'm not alone when it comes to stuff like this.

Whatever the case, it's clear that perception of Tracy's safety in some quarters does not match with what the numbers are telling us. Very similar to something I wrote more than a year ago, as the city dealt with another seeming wave of violence.

Seems some things might never change...