Here is an excerpt from Kristina Davis' article in the San Diego Union-Tribune:
"Crime continued to plunge in San Diego last year, following a national trend of large U.S. cities that are growing safer despite a sour economy, according to statistics released by the Mayor’s Office yesterday... Overall crime in the city fell by nearly 18 percent in 2009. Homicides were down 25.5 percent, with 41 last year, compared with 55 in 2008. The last time there were fewer was in 1972, when the population was less than half the size it is today, Mayor Jerry Sanders said. Rape, which had been one of the only violent crimes to rise over the past few years, saw a decrease last year of 15.4 percent... Property crimes, including burglary, theft and auto theft, dropped 20.1 percent. Police officials attributed part of the overall crime reduction to a renewed focus on curfew violations and gang crime. Collaboration with federal authorities and increased supervision of parolees and probationers have also led to a reduction in stolen cars going across the U.S.-Mexico border... The San Diego Police Officers Association cautioned that the report released yesterday does not provide a full picture of crime trends in the city. Traditionally, only major categories of crimes, such as homicide, robbery, rape, auto theft and burglary, are reported to the FBI each year for statistical purposes." Link to Full Article
Analysis: This article and my subsequent analysis go back to the concept and apparent dichotomy of border violence spillover. If you follow this blog regularly, you've read my numerous posts on how the existence of spillover is highly debated, and its very existence depends on whom you ask. We know that crimes related to the drug trade in Mexico happen on our side of the border all the time. Yet, crime rates are falling in San Diego, and El Paso - right across the border from Cuidad Juárez, the most violent city in Mexico - is something like the second safest city in the United States.
So how does that work, exactly?
You can read my prior analysis on this topic HERE, in which I go into some detail about crime statistics and spillover. I don't want to rehash everything again (mostly because I'm doubling my efforts), but the main point I want to make here is that statistics don't always paint the most accurate picture. I think it's awesome that crime rates in San Diego are going down, and that's a testament to the great work that law enforcement agencies are doing there.
However, what statistics don't tell you is who is committing those crimes. More specifically, let's use homicide as an example. I don't know what the exact statistic is for 2009 in San Diego, but let's just say that there were 120 homicides in 2008, and there were only 80 in 2009. Sounds good, right? Well, what if in 2008, 15 percent of those homicides were related to the drug trade in Mexico, and in 2009, that chunk of the pie rose to 55 percent? True, you have a decrease in homicide overall, but you may still have a much bigger problem.
I don't know what percentage of major category crimes are being committed in relation to Mexico's drug trade, let alone minor category crimes - which are not tracked for statistical purposes by the FBI. And maybe a lot of people - politicians, police, etc. - don't necessarily care about the proportions, as long as crime is going down. I will say that if our government has any hope of defining spillover in a standard fashion and truly prevent it from happening more than it already has, then more scrutiny needs to be paid to crime statistics in border cities.