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    Free the Facts On Neighborhood Crimes

    (Feb. 12, 2007) -- When learned of recent ELB auto burglaries (El Dorado Estates area and Naples) and another reported shooting downtown (area of 6th/Linden) we reported them...although we're sure there were other auto burglaries and shootings elsewhere that we missed.

    Sadly, LB City Hall continues to disseminate neighborhood crime data in an antiquated, dilatory and difficult to decipher manner. This isn't LBPD's fault. It's been done this way for years...and changing it wasn't among the priorities of the former Mayor and those around her who disliked unpleasant facts about public safety.

    LB's current system requires correlating monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual tables of data with an ancient map divided into often irregularly shaped crime reporting districts that date from the last century.

    Just compare the 21st century approach in (of all places) Los Angeles...where homeowners, businesses and ordinary taxpayers can access their city's neighborhood crime data on LAPD's web site. With the click of a mouse, LAPD provides the public with access to data on easily readable maps...and the information is available in days, not months.

    Try it yourself: Click the following LAPD page: The page delivers data on demand. For those unfamiliar with L.A., try it by entering the following info: for Hollywood (Sunset and Vine) enter 6200 Sunset Blvd. (zip 90028); for the Miracle Mile enter 5800 Wilshire Blvd. (zip 90036). Enter a time period of a week and a radius of about two miles and get an eyeful of what pops up. paraphrase a line from a Jack Nicholson movie, do you think LB City Hall could handle that level of truth?

    The last monthly neighborhood crime data on LBPD's web site is from May 2006. You can see more recent monthly reports in antiquated hard copy form at the Main Public Library, 101 Pacific...which you'll then have to xerox at your expense or hand transcribe.

    And we're still fuming over what we consider the politicized sanitizing of crime data that took place under the former Mayoral administration. For years, LB City Hall routinely released crime statistics sorted by Council district (letting taxpayers compare their district with other parts of town)...but as the 2004 City Council election cycle approached, some censor forbid further release of this information to the public. The spinning cover story (that Council district data was "inaccurate" because some crime reporting districts are shared by two Council districts) was baloney because City Hall continues releasing "citywide" crime stats...which cross all Council district lines.

    And the bigger point should be obvious: "citywide" crime stats are inherently misleading because they camouflage LB's disproportionately crime impacted areas by homogenizing them with safer parts of town. An increasing number of residents have figured this out. Like former Soviet citizens, they basically disregard official "citywide" crime numbers because they conflict with what they see with their own eyes.

    In the days before the internet, City Hall could get away keeping neighborhood crime out of sight, out of mind until its immediate impact dissipated and daily victims became monthly statistics.

    We aim to change this. In our view, a City Hall that respects openness and technology should provide its taxpayers with access to timely, understandable neighborhood crime data on the internet.

    We urge every neighborhood and homeowners association to urge their Councilmember -- in polite but firm terms -- to agendize an item in the coming weeks that directs City Manager Jerry Miller either to implement a web-based neighborhood crime disclosure system forthwith or to explain why he can't and issue an RFP to implement an L.A.-style system (or better) in LB.

    In the interim, we invite LB residents and businesses to email -- -- and let us know whenever you learn of newsworthy neighborhood crime(s). We'll confirm them first with LBPD and post the information in a conspicuous place on this web site.

    As LAPD's web site says, "Being informed about crime in your community is the first step in preventing future occurrences."


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