Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
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Crime in Galveston?
by David Stanowski
06 October 2010
There are three reasons to question the accuracy of the data in the recent article, “25 most dangerous neighborhoods 2010”:
1. This article lists 24 neighborhoods, in Galveston, instead of 21. WalletPop.com uses the data base from NeighborhoodScoutReports.com to define its neighborhoods. NeighborhoodScoutReports.com notes that “Neighborhood boundaries sourced from the US Census Bureau”. The only census bureau designation that conforms at all to what they are doing is the census tract. However, the 2000 census data, the latest available on line, defines 21 census tracts in the City of Galveston, not 24!
It is also surprising that they rank the so-called “Church Street Neighborhood” as number 23 out of 24 in the City (see graphic below). The number 24 neighborhood would be the worst in the City, so why did they select the number 23 neighborhood for their list, when there was one that was even worse?
2. It lists the population of the City as 61,903. This was the population in 1980! Galveston has not had a population over 61,000 in 30 years! Is WalletPop.com using 1980 data in this analysis? The City may have had 24 census tracts when it had a population of 61,903, but it only has 21 with a population of 57,000 in 2000.
3. Also notice how the WalletPop.com map of the so-called “Church Street Neighborhood” runs from Broadway to Harborside, and from 19th to 26th with a jog to 28th street at the top.
However, Census Tract 7245, from the 2000 census, runs from Broadway to Harborside, but from 19th all the way to 29th. This is the third indication that WalletPop.com may be using 1980 data instead of 2000 data.
What do we know about
crime in Galveston?
1. The 2007 crime rates (pre-Ike) from City-Data.com revealed that crime in Galveston was running at a rate that was twice the national average, which gave the City the highest crime rate in the County. With an average crime rate for the City of 650, it’s not hard to imagine that the worst neighborhoods could have had rates exceeding 1,000, which might qualify for one of the worst in the nation, but census tract crime data is not available online, so more detailed analysis is not possible.
A more detailed analysis of citywide crime data, in 2007, finds that the City ranks below average in violent crime, but is above average in auto thefts, burglaries, and thefts.
2. In October 2009, the GOGP did a study of GPD case reports in the police grids containing and surrounding GHA’s four housing projects. Case reports count everything logged in as a crime.
From 01 September 2007 to 01 September 2008, i.e. the year before Hurricane Ike:
Cedar Terrace, police grids 43 and 48,
453 case reports
Palm Terrace, police grid 60,
569 case reports
Magnolia Homes, police grids 15 and 17, 270 case reports
Oleander Homes, police grids 74 and 75, 1,266 case reports
Total for the areas containing and surrounding the four Housing Projects, 2,558 case reports
Total for the City of Galveston, 12,018 case reports
21.28% of all case reports in the City of Galveston were for the areas containing and surrounding the four Housing Projects.
The seven police grids that were used do not produce precise data, because they do include some areas outside of the Project grounds; but it is the best measurement available.
The total population of these four facilities was approximately 1,252, or 2.20% of the pre-Ike population of the City, but with 21.28% of the case reports, the police grids containing and surrounding the four Housing Projects accounted for a highly disproportionate share of the City’s crime.
The fact that the GHA owned and operated Housing Projects were a crime problem should come as no surprise to anyone, especially GHA. Page 7 of the Executive Summary of their 2008 Plan stated:
“The struggle to maintain crime-free properties in Galveston requires constant vigilance. GHA has used operating funds for police services over baseline because the use of Capital Funds for physical improvements is crucial to its ability to maintain its properties. However, the money available for police services from operations is only around 25% of that provided through the former PHDEP grant and it is insufficient to manage the crime level on and around GHA’s public housing. Unfortunately, without a comprehensive policing program, problems that were once dealt with reoccur as felons return to their previous neighborhoods from prison. The drug crime causes fear in residents, high turnover and collection loss, property damage, a high volume of trash on the grounds and management turnover."
An accurate analysis of 2000 crime levels in the City’s 21 neighborhoods, i.e. census tracts, would probably find that Census Tract 7246 had the highest crime rate since it contained Cedar Terrace, Palm Terrace, and Sandpiper Cove (a Section 8 housing project).
Measuring Crime in Public Housing
Census Tract 7246 runs from Broadway to Church and from 29th to 46th, with a missing section west of 41st Street from Ball to Church.
It is highly unlikely that Census Tract 7245, i.e. Downtown Galveston, or what WalletPop.com called the “Church Street Neighborhood” had the highest crime rate in the City!
3. Commenting on the article in WalletPop.com, Chief Willey said, “Crime is at an all-time low the last two years compared to the last 30 years of collected crime data.” The Chief also confirmed that the downtown area was not a particularly high crime area of the City.
WalletPop.com’s story probably used inaccurate data to characterize downtown Galveston as one of the country’s most dangerous neighborhoods, but it is true that the City’s crime rate before Hurricane Ike was unacceptable. The fact that GPD has confirmed that the City’s current crime rate has plunged with the loss of 9,000 residents, including those who used to live in the four family housing projects, should give everyone pause about rebuilding the 569 public housing units. The crime associated with public housing is only one of the reasons that it is a major liability to a city!
Dangerous Neighborhoods on CH 39:
Dangerous Neighborhoods on CH 2: