Shreveport Crime In 2018: Perception Versus Reality
Crime, crime, crime...
That's the story of Shreveport in 2018. Phrases get tossed around like "More dangerous than ever" or "It's never been like this"...but how true is that?
Last year I was tasked with looking at how much worse it is in today's world than 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago. What I found changed the way I look at Shreveport. What I uncovered is a complete contrast to the narrative. It turns out Shreveport is safer now than almost any point in the last two generations.
The research I started was last year, so it reflected 2016 crime numbers, which were up from 2015 (slightly) and above the 5-year trend. But, it was WELL below any year from 1978 to 2008.
Before we continue, let's look at what we're actually talking about.
There are two metrics used to measure crime in most cities. First, violent crimes, which include homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and armed robbery. Second, crimes per 100,000 residents. Those two metrics are the general marks to measure crime in a city. It give you a chance to measure cities with different population against each other.
OK, back to Shreveport's crime.
When I looked at the numbers last year, I was based of 2016, after that was completed, I went back to review 2017 against those numbers. Amazingly, 2017's total violent crime was almost identical to 2016 in Shreveport (12,566 total crimes in 2016, 12,665 in 2017). So again, 2017 was up from the 5-year-average, but still BELOW the entire late 70s, all of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s.
Now let's skip ahead to our modern day numbers.
The most recent monthly crime report from the Shreveport Police compares April 2018 to April 2017, and the year-to-date numbers for 2018 vs 2017. Total violent crimes in April of this year vs. last year are down 7%, and overall 2018 vs. 2017, the year is down 14%.
Perhaps the best example between last year and this year is the homicide numbers. At this point in 2017, the city had already witnessed 16 murders. So far this year, only 7 murders, which is a 56% drop. In fact, rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault are all down from 2017 to 2018. Armed robbery down as much as 22%.
Even within the city, the crime numbers paint a different picture than what most people think.
I've heard people say things like "I'd never go downtown at night, it's too dangerous", but the facts don't back that up. District #13, the Downtown Shreveport area, has fewer total crimes than any other district in the city. In fact, for all of 2018, it's HALF of the next lowest. Also, the majority of the crimes reported in District #13 are theft related, and non-violent. All year, there were 10 violent crimes reported in Downtown Shreveport, which is lower than just the Aggravated Assault numbers for 8 of 13 districts.
When you look at the numbers, of the convenient Shreveport Crime Map linked out from the City's website, you will find that almost all of the violent crime in Shreveport is confined to 3 or 4 neighborhoods. In fact, District #5 has more than twice the crime of 5 other districts.
So what causes us to feel like the crime issues are worse than they've ever been? I don't think we have a concrete answer, but if I had to guess, I would put my money on Social Media.
There were only 3 homicides in Shreveport in April of this year. But doesn't it feel like there were far more? In 2016 there were 46 homicides, and every time there was a murder, there was non-stop coverage every time you opened your phone. It's no longer "traditional media" bringing you the facts about shootings, now you have random folks with cell phone cameras telling you what they think has happened. You have ever member of your family sharing the link. You are in an echo chamber.
We now feel like there's a murder every day when there were less than 50 in a year. But what would your social media have looked like in 1990 Shreveport when there were 69 murders? Or 1993 when there were 76 murders? 1995 Shreveport had 61 murders, and your social media would have been full of it.
But we weren't as connected then. So we didn't see mention of each murder a dozen times a day.
So is Shreveport more violent today than it was in 2003? No. How about 1995? Nope. Or 1990? Not even close. Maybe today is more violent than 1988? Again, it's not. Shreveport is safer today than the average of the last 40 years.