California Democrats Call for Crime Drop in Violent City. But the Data Isn’t What It Seems

California Governor Gavin Newsom (Archive)California Governor Gavin Newsom (Archive)
By Wallace White. California Governor Gavin Newsom (Archive)

While leading Democrats in California claimed there was a drop in crime in Oakland, one of the state’s most notorious cities for crime, the numbers they cited contained significant gaps in the reporting, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom touted an overall 33% decline in Oakland in a June press release, and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao also cited the figure in a May press release. However, the figure comes from incomplete year-to-date nonviolent crime and burglary reports, according to the Chronicle’s analysis. The actual decline may have been closer to 20%, the outlet reported.

Nonviolent crimes and burglaries are reported to the Oakland Police Department (OPD) through an online portal and take six weeks to appear in the crime data, the Chronicle reports. The result is an underreported crime figure for 2024 to date, artificially inflating the reported change in crime from the previous year.

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Lt. Barry Donelan, head of Oakland’s burglary and general crimes division, said the OPD is not intentionally trying to mislead the public, and cited “decrepit IT infrastructure” as the reason for the delay in reporting, the Chronicle reported.

“There may be a delay in the total number of property crimes reported based on our community’s use of the online reporting system,” an OPD spokesperson told the Chronicle. “Each of these online crime reports must be reviewed and verified by a member of our staff before being included in the crime statistics.”

Each weekly report from OPD includes a footnote stating: “Statistics may be affected by late reporting, the geocoding process, or the reclassification or non-substantiation of crimes. Because crime reporting and data entry may lag behind, not all crimes may be captured.”

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However, according to the Chronicle, the OPD has not pressed people like Newsom and Thao, who accept the statistics at face value, to correct the situation.

“These results are a clear and concrete example of the effective collaboration of state, local and federal law enforcement in Oakland and the surrounding East Bay,” Newsom said in the June press release. “To ensure the safety and security of Oakland residents, we will continue to make our communities safer by combating crime and holding individuals accountable.”

“Oakland is moving in the right direction and the public safety strategies the city has implemented are paying off,” Thao said in a May news release. “After years of rising crime rates, crime is down more than 30 percent from last year and 17 percent from the past three years.”

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Oakland has struggled with crime in recent years, with the violent crime rate in Oakland in 2022 three times higher than the California average, according to Neighborhood Scout. Thao is currently facing a recall election in November, with crime a major issue for Oakland residents who have seen a rise in crime after Thao fired former Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong.

The OPD, Thao’s office and Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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First published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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