There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crime happens. Even on the train

I have to sympathize with Sacramento Regional Transit's long-suffering general manager, Mike Wiley.  After all, what can you say when asked to comment on the first homicide anyone can recall in the history of the transit district light rail service?

“You have two people who get into an altercation and it ends in a fatality – that’s a situation that could happen anywhere,”  The Sacramento Bee quoted Wiley.

Two nights later, as if to prove Wiley's point, a man was shot and killed near Sacramento Executive Airport. The shooting didn't occur on airport property, which saved the airport's management from having to come up with a comment on the event.

Monday night, Wiley is scheduled to deliver his Monthly Performance Report at the RT Board meeting, part of which will be the Regional Transit crime statistics for December.

"The District’s security statistics from RT’s Police Services indicate a total of 26 reported crimes for the month of December. FY 2014 year-to-date trend for crimes per 1,000 passengers is slightly higher than last year. In the month of December, RT’s Customer Advocacy department recorded 6 security related customer reports, which is a decrease of 4 reports compared to November 2013."

As explained in the agenda handout for Wiley's report, "System crime data [are] based on [Regional Transit Police Services] reports and reports obtained in cooperation with surrounding law enforcement agencies that are felony and misdemeanor crimes and does not include citations for infractions. Examples of felony crime on RT system are assault, robbery, assault with a weapon, auto theft, false impersonation, felony vandalism, burglary, and misdemeanor crime examples are battery, petty theft, misdemeanor vandalism, trespassing."

I suppose RT will be asked to add "homicide" to the "examples of felony crime on RT system."

At times like this I wish I was better at statistics.

For instance, if there is a 0.011 chance of being a victim of a crime for every 1,000 passengers, how does that compare with, for instance, the chance of being a victim of a crime in the city of Sacramento?

Based on November year-to-date statistics, the city of Sacramento, with a population of 475,516, averages more than 1,775 major crimes each month. And that's just the homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts. That doesn't count "false impersonation, felony vandalism ...  and misdemeanor crime[s] ... [of] battery, petty theft, misdemeanor vandalism, trespassing."

Somebody help me out here: Are you more likely to be a victim of a crime while riding transit or while standing on a sidewalk near Sacramento Executive Airport?

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