Oh joy! Sacramento ABC news affiliate probing Nevada City’s crime rate in FBI report

We’ve noticed a Sacramento “ABC 10” news vehicle parked on Broad Street in Nevada City this week and learned — by asking the reporters — that the ABC news affiliate is exploring reports of the city’s crime rate based on an FBI report. It stems from this, which also has received attention on this blog and in the local media.

Small cities claim an oddity in the rankings. The FBI itself warns the news media against using the data for articles comparing the city’s crime rates. “One city may report more crime than a comparable one, not because there is more crime, but rather because its law enforcement agency, through proactive efforts, identifies more offenses,” the FBI report states.

I checked with Nevada City Hall, which said it was aware of the Sacramento TV stations interest in the subject and had been meeting with them.

The news report is expected out around July 10. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

About jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.
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15 Responses to Oh joy! Sacramento ABC news affiliate probing Nevada City’s crime rate in FBI report

  1. Brad Peceimer says:

    Hopefully we’ll get accurate information unlike what we consistently get from the leadership of the NCSO.

  2. Judith A Lowry says:

    There does seem to be a lot of crime here, for such a little town.
    Cozy, friendly, generous Nevada City has unfortunately attracted a lot of human refuse along with people in genuine need.
    Like the man who disguised himself as a woman to secure his seat on the Titanic lifeboat, these folks migrate here to freely partake of what has been set aside for our more unfortunate citizens.
    This is frustrating, because it stretches resources intended for the truly destitute among us.
    But in order to tend to them we must also offer alms to the feckless.
    I see no solution but to continue helping, however, with some thoughtful modifications to our systems of care.

  3. reinettesenum@gmail.com says:

    Interestingly enough I saw the reporter night before last, asking around about the report. I asked her when the report came out. She said 2014. 2014? It was actually 2010 (yes, that old of a story) and I spoke to reporters about this report back then when I was still on the city council.

    I also asked the reporter what size were the other cities that we were being compared to. She answered in the hundreds of thousands. I responded with “then how can you compare a town of 3,000 to a city of nearly a half a million?” She never came back to interview me the next day as she said she would. I guess she didn’t like my questions, perhaps?

  4. stevefrisch says:

    Reinette brings up a very good point. Statistically the accuracy of studies that depend on the comparability of data declines as the number of records included declines, and as the size of the delta between the data sets compared increases, thus the methodology of a comparative study has to be adjusted to compensate for outside factors, such as the “higher incidence or reporting” dynamic that the FBI noted. There could be any number of other outside factors. In a small data set one black swan event can skew data.

  5. Judith Lowry says:

    In college those who needed to take the course called it “Sadistics”.
    “There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics”, they explained.
    But if you understand small community and the load of negative emotional weight it can bear, then you might see why the front page of this community’s newspaper today featured a story about a young man falling into a fire at a celebration.
    With all that is going on in the world, this captures our media’s attention because it is about “us”.
    In the name of people like Mary Grace Tassone, this is not something the bean counters understand.

  6. Nielsen A Locke says:

    Not an unusual event that occurs in NC concerning data !

  7. Cathy Wilcox-Barnes says:

    What crime statistics do they include in the report. The area that uses “Nevada City” as an address is definitely larger than the incorporated City Limits of Nevada City and its 3,000 residents. Are they including, for instance, Tyler Foote Rd., Cascade Shores and many other areas with a 95959 zip? If so, it would certainly skew the data.

    • steve cottrell says:

      Cathy:

      It’s been a pet peeve of mine for years, (decades, actually), that insofar as media and government agencies are concerned, “Nevada City” is often any place between the Grass Valley city limits and Donner Summit.

      When my friend Larry and I started the Nevada City News in the fall of 1989, we decided to mail free copies of the first six issues to every address in the 95959 Zip Code. From that repeated mass mailing, we hoped to attract a few dozen paid subscribers and provide our advertisers with readers.

      I knew the Zip Code had a ton of homes in it, but when our first postal bill included nearly 9,000 addresses, we decided to shorten the four-week free trial to three weeks.

      So I agree –– stats for “Nevada City” are pretty meaningless if they represent the entire 95959 Zip Code.

      It’s nice to think of everyone living within the Zip Code as belonging to a “community of interest,” but they are not residents of the town and should not be counted in any statistical analysis by any agency issuing a report on “Nevada City.”

      I just wish The Union and others would keep that in mind when they report on a big drug bust in Nevada City that actually took place several miles out of town.

  8. Judith A Lowry says:

    According to statistics, right.
    But consider that there are no large cities or industrial sprawls in Nevada County, just a couple of small cities and some residential regions.
    Consequently, given the intimacy of this community, whatever crime there is here seems to become magnified and have a longer retention in the minds of the locals.
    Names like Susan Wallace, Laura Wilcox and Hetty Lester to name a very few, might fade quickly into obscurity in large urban areas, but not here.
    It’s fine to defend the this area’s reputation as a haven of sweet, quiet little towns and challenge statistics to the contrary, we need the tourists and this kind of publicity is a killer, but the nature and amount of crime in our area is somewhat alarming for its relatively small population and does merit reflection.
    As short handed as our responders are and with limited resources, the people in these parts are dealing with violence and crime as well as anyone else in this increasingly unsettled world can.
    Day by day.
    Here, it’s not about statistics it’s about our friends and neighbors.
    Anyway, that’s what I would like to have told that reporter.

  9. jon smith says:

    When you can routinely find syringes within a block of the sheriff’s office, it makes you wonder what kind of impact the actually have. $60,000.00 allocated to aerial surveillance plus the time and manpower dedicated to “abating” backyard grows might be more intelligently spent putting cops on the streets to combat hard drug use and violent crime. Royal’s priorities seem to be completely upside down. Does anyone oversee and evaluate the competency of the NCSO or do they just wing it according to the whim of the chief?

  10. Money needs to be spent on meth prevention. The Union reports a meth-related crime nearly every day. I haven’t seen a single anti-meth campaign in the area.

    Also, something needs to be done about all of the dodgy fleabag motels. They’re magnets for criminals.

  11. Steve Willer says:

    Nevada County composes an area of roughly 624,000 acres. The two zip codes of 95945 and 95959 equal about 37% of the county land mass. 95945 = 41,000 acres and 95959 = 195,000 acres. If the crime statistics for Nevada City include all that area, that is a heck of a lot more than the little city boundary. 95959 also includes a lot of Federal land, so I don’t know how that will effect crime statistics.

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