Monday, May 10, 2010

Is Cambridgeport Safe?

At the most recent Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association meeting, Dep. Superintendent Paul Ames and Sgt Leon Lashley of CPD were on the agenda to discuss neighborhood policing and the most recent crime statistics for the neighborhood. The officers are two of our current officers focused specifically on C-port in CPD's Neighborhood Sergeants Program.

First, an interesting note on the nature of community perceptions of safety: having lived in a variety of neighborhoods of different safety levels around the country, I have noticed it is not the amount of offenses that concerns residents as much as the crime rates trends. In other words, people have very different thresholds for what an "acceptable" level of crime, and generally won't live in a neighborhood that doesn't meet that individual threshold. Once someone has settled in a place and adopted the appropriate level of vigilence against crime, if the crime rate changes, it can make a big difference. As an example, Cambridgeport is a far safer place--by any measure--than my old neighborhood in DC, where I was quite content. But if the crime rate here were to increase significantly, I would be very concerned--even if the rates stayed well below my old neighborhood's.

Having said that, we can almost universally declare that yes, C-port is a safe neighborhood, even compared to the broader City of Cambridge--a place without a single murder in the first quarter of 2010. Just this week, CPD released the official Crime Report for the first quarter of the year Below is a chart showing crimes by type for all the Cambridge neighborhoods east of Harvard Square.

Two things jump out at me: first, that East Cambridge, C-port, Area 4, and Riverside had very similar crime profiles early this year, noticably more than Inman, Midcambridge and Aggasiz. Second, however, if you park your car in Midcambridge, lock up.

But to my earlier point, what about C-port itself? Is it getting more safe? Here's another chart based on data from the CPD report showing the first quarter of the last 5 years, grouped by crime type. Compared to last year, every category of crime shows a decrease except for "malicious destruction," which as Deputy Ames pointed out, is a little misleading, since that crime covers everything from graffiti to more serious property crime. A lot of this is statistical noise from the small sample size, but certainly the neighborhood is not seeing the kind of uptick in crime you might expect in this economy, rather, it has gotten noticably quieter over the past two years.

Check out the full report for yourself, or as always, C-port's consistently updated Crime Log.

Thanks to Deputy Ames, Sgt Kathleen Murphy, and Rebecca Burbank for their help and responsiveness.

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