Portland Police, Graduate Students Join Forces to Map Crime Hotspots

Using police data starting from 1995, Portland State University students created a website that shows when and where certain crimes occurred most frequently.

by Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian / April 30, 2015
Portland, Ore. Flickr/Thomas Hawk
(TNS) -- Portland State University graduate students, working with Portland Police Bureau crime analysts, have mapped crime trends in the city from 1995 through 2013 on a new website.

The website captures 13 offenses, including domestic assault, non-domestic assaults, bike theft, business burglaries, residential burglaries, car prowls, gun crimes, motor vehicle theft, bank robbery, business robberies, residential robberies, street robberies and vandalism.

The website shows crime hotspots over the years, what time of day and day of the week certain crimes occurred most frequently, and where in the city they occurred.

PSU criminology professor Kris Henning, who has worked closely with the Police Bureau on other projects, said he wanted to create the website for several years because he didn't feel like the public understood that crime in Portland has dropped dramatically over the past two decades.

"We felt like that story has not been sufficiently told,'' Henning said. "That's an important message to get out.''

He said he helped advise a team of seven graduate students who worked on the labor-intensive project since fall. Their goal is to update the data annually. PSU did not receive any funding for the project, Henning said.

PSU obtained a subset of data from the Portland Police Data Systems since 1995. They began with figures from 1995, because some data had been purged before that year, Henning said.

The website also allows viewers to get a street view of the city's geographical areas depicted on the maps via Google Earth.

Among the findings:

- Compared to 1995, when gun crimes were concentrated in North and Northeast Portland, gun crimes were dispersed throughout downtown and Northwest, Northeast, Southeast and East Portland between 2009 and 2013. Gun crimes during this five-year period were more prevalent on the east side of the Willamette River, with concentrations along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, 82nd Avenue and 122nd Avenue.

- Between 2009 and 2013, gun crimes were most likely to occur on Wednesday nights between 8 and 10 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday nights between 9 p.m and 2 a.m.

- Motor vehicle thefts from 2009 through 2013 mostly occurred in downtown and inner Northwest Portland. On the east side of the Willamette River, there were well-above-average concentrations in inner Northeast Portland and East Portland, at 82nd Avenue along the major roads — Sandy, Burnside, Division and Powell. The frequency of offenses increases the farther east these roads stretch.

- Bank robberies, according to Portland data between 2003 and 2013, most often occurred just before closing at 4 p.m.

- There's been a 53 percent decrease in residential burglaries between 1995 and 2013. Most occurred between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

©2015 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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