Crime data site ‘shows how safe Portland is’

Goal of the website is to give residents information to accurately assess risk

Portland Police Bureau and criminal justice students teamed up to create a crime map website. April 29, 2015 (Courtesy, pdx.edu)
Portland Police Bureau and criminal justice students teamed up to create a crime map website. April 29, 2015 (Courtesy, pdx.edu)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Are you safe where you live? A new map created by the Portland Police Bureau and criminal justice students at PSU allows you to track crime in your neighborhood, while also looking at which types of crime are on the rise.

The crime mapping system shows that some crime rates have plummeted, some have shifted neighborhoods, and one crime involving something dear to Portland’s heart has skyrocketed.

“A bike is worth a couple hundred bucks, but it’s not like getting your car stolen,” PSU student Kelsey Baleilevuka told KOIN 6 News.

Baleilevuka said she was the victim of bike theft near 23rd Avenue and Burnside. Ironically, she’s part of the student team that helped develop the new crime maps, showing nearly two decades of crime trends. The most dramatic results: Bike thefts jumped 50% from 1995 to 2013.

Students discuss the results of the crime mapping system. (KOIN 6 News)
Students discuss the results of the crime mapping system. (KOIN 6 News)

“It kind of clusters around downtown and then on the other side by Grand,” Baleilevuka said.

According to police, another noticeable shift has happened with gun-related crimes. Excluding homicides, crimes involving guns have moved from inner Northeast Portland toward Gresham.

However, students and police said, for the most part, crime in Portland has plummeted since the 1990s.

Portland State Professor Kris Henning said many residents don’t realize that crime has declined considerably over the past 20 years. Henning said they devour so much crime news they think the city is more dangerous than it is.

“Of the 13 crimes we looked at, the only one that increased significantly was bike theft,” Baleilevuka said.

Overall, gun-related crimes in Portland have dropped 84%. Residential burglaries are down 61%, motor vehicle thefts dropped 70%, home robberies are down 76% and street robberies are down 70%.

Henning said the goal of the website is to give residents information to accurately assess risk and combat excess fear of crime.

“It will help people potentially realize how safe the city really is,” Police Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

Though maps show crime is on the decline, some north side residents said there’s still more work to do.

“The neighborhood I live in I just see crimes every day, it’s just ridiculous,” Maurice Merriweather said.

Another resident, Chelsea Hasbrook, said while she believes crime is getting under control, more could be done to stop it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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