Public perceptions about the prevalence of crime and personal risk for victimization are often disconnected from reality. Portland, like many other U.S. cities, has seen significant reductions in crime over the past two decades. Unfortunately, these remarkable changes are rarely discussed in the media and many people continue to believe that crime is on the rise (see recent report).
Faulty perceptions regarding the true prevalence of crime have the potential to negatively impact the physical, psychological, social, and economic health of our community. Misinformation about crime also impacts public confidence in law enforcement. Finally, informed decisions about public policy related to criminal justice require an accurate accounting of crime, an understanding of how crime rates have changed over time, and the identification of geographic and temporal hotspots where/when crime is more likely to occur.
The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is exploring new methods for reaching out to the community and providing data around crime and public safety. This includes the establishment of a formal partnership with Portland State University’s (PSU) Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute (CJPRI). The resulting “Crime Analysis Team” seeks to address gaps in public knowledge about crime in Portland through detailed analysis of temporal and geographic patterns. The CJPRI website used to present the findings will be updated every year to ensure that up-to-date crime information is available to community members, the media, and policy makers.