Crime was way down in Richmond last year. And it’s way down — 60 percent —compared with 10 years ago, and as far back as the ’70s, when the Police Department started keeping reliable statistics. The bad old days, when Richmond was popularly referred to as the murder capital of the South, are far behind.
Richmond Police Chief Ray Tarasovic trumpeted the numbers in a news conference this month: “I think the city is a significantly safer city in 2013 than it was in 2004.”
But the data the department distributes to reporters each year tell only a fraction of the story. Crime has risen in some neighborhoods, and certain offenses are far more prevalent in some places than others. Plus, have you ever wondered about the most common body type among people arrested? Or which job they’re most likely to hold?
For a portrait in statistics, Style Weekly folded the annual crime-numbers report into its own analysis of a publicly available database of the thousands of incidents reported by police. The result is an unfiltered snapshot of crime of crime in Richmond during 2013.
Methodology and notes: These infographics are based on statistics and categories published by the Richmond Police Department. Crime rates are measured using neighborhood population estimates, which are based on 2010 U.S. Census data.
While crime rates are a useful and widely used tool to normalize crime data across areas with varied populations, they fail to take into account commercial activity in areas that otherwise have very small populations — for example, the city center, where relatively few people live but many travel and work every day. Every area with a crime rate higher than 25 incidents per 100 residents in Richmond is in an area with commercial activity that draws large numbers of residents from beyond the neighborhood.
The data also includes only crimes reported to the Richmond Police Department. It doesn’t include offenses reported to Virginia Commonwealth University police or other departments, for example, which don’t make crime data available in comparable formats.
The categories listed also don’t conform to the FBI’s uniform crime reporting standard and shouldn’t be used to compare crime in Richmond to other localities.