Perception gap grows between actual crime rates and what Americans believe is happening

Originally published at: Perception gap grows between actual crime rates and what Americans believe is happening | Boing Boing


Plus rural crime tends to be underrepresented and underreported in media because of the decline of small town newspapers to cover it in recent years. Not just crime but corruption and general grift. This makes it so much easier for small town conservative types to point the finger at near by larger communities not realizing their shit stinks just as bad if not very likely worse than theirs.


The difference is that one group can’t actually define what these “extreme” view of the other side is while at the same time espousing violence and anti-democratic principles as legitimate forms of public discourse. But yeah, let’s meet in the middle. :roll_eyes:


After two years of attending my small town’s city council meetings, can confirm.


One thing I’ve noticed, at least from people I know in L.A. and San Francisco, is that they’re perceiving more crime and squalor creeping into their otherwise affluent enclaves over the past decade. Car break-ins, burglaries, catalytic converter thefts, homeless encampments, muggings for jewelry, and shootings do happen more (relatively speaking) than they did before 2011.

The reasons for this change are debatable. However, whether the residents of these pricey neighbourhoods identify as conservative or liberal or even progressive (hi Santa Monica and Venice!), the perception – now that the failure modes of late-stage capitalism finally affects them – is that crime in wider society is “out of control”. GOP politicians encourage and play on this perception for their own ends, but they’ve been doing that since before Willie Horton. What’s new is the wider group of voters buying into the perception, even if they don’t vote GOP.

The responses across the board to this perception are calls for more guard labour and NIMBYism and casual racism instead of serious (and ultimately self-interested) discussions of how and why these blights have started entering their bubbles of privilege.


Was interested until the lazy both-sides-ism kicked in. Look at who the right nominates and elects. More than half of them ARE extremists.

If the right were moderates, theyd vote for our moderate conservative party, the Democrats. They don’t. They overwhelmingly support an unabashedly anti-democratic, white supremacists party whose very ideological foundations are extreme by any meaningful measure.


“But the fear of crime is rising!”




All presented with no data at all showing that crime hasn’t risen. I’m pretty sure it hasn’t, but don’t feel like (re)searching for the data, which is on the writer(s) of the article(s) (to at least point me to it)
NVM Found it in the link to Hayes Brown’s article.

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Several years ago, a neighbor tried to organize a neighborhood watch program for our area. At the initial meeting, there was a community relations representative from the police department. She began her presentation by saying, “I usually like to tailor what we talk about to the types of crimes happening in the particular neighborhood. So I looked up last month’s crime stats for the ‘beat’ your neighborhood is in and found that there wasn’t any.”

The other presentation was by an officer who encouraged people to call the police department if they see people around who “don’t belong” and he promised he would find something to arrest them for. WTF?!


Sadly, this “perception gap” survey is pretty meaningless. It asks questions like what do you think people in this political party will agree with statements and they are all vague. For example, one of the questions is how many Republicans will say, “Properly controlled immigration can be good for America.” Of course they will all say that but what do they mean by “properly controlled?” Does that mean “mostly white people?” Another is “Racism still exists in America.” Racism against whom? Racism against minorities? or phantom racism against white people? Same thing with “sexism.”


And the rest of them enthusiastically endorse them. They can’t even be bothered to directly condemn their overt racism and misogyny.

Not only is there no extremist left, there’s barely an effective progressive left. And you see exactly who the right is when unapologetic progressives (who just so happen to be mostly women) speak clearly to critical democratic issues like equal rights. Before “the squad” came into office there was virtually nobody consistently advocating for progressive causes and they’ve paid dearly for sticking their necks out for civil rights. Meanwhile, Paul Pelosi is taking hammers to the face from GQP terrorists.


That “perception gap” quiz is itself propaganda designed to help Republicans.

All the questions about Republicans are like “bad thing is real” and “not all group are bad”, while the questions about Democrats are divisive issues and are framed for maximum provocation.

Then they measure your error as a percentage difference, which is meaningless, “percent” is not a unit, and they invert the most provocative questions to confuse people, so if you’re not paying attention, you might think 90% of Democrats think the police are bad people, instead of being just as much the boot-lickers as Republicans.

If you want Republicans to show their true colors, phrase the questions like this:

“Unarmed people shot by police would be alive if they had done what they were told.”
“Many Muslims are terrorists.”
“Donald Trump’s flaws do not matter.”
“Racism is not a serious problem.”
“Sexism is not a serious problem.”
“Immigration should favor immigrants from European nations.”


Some people are absolutely correct about rising violent crime in their areas. The more important distinction to be made is that crime is worse in jurisdictions run by Republicans than by Democrats.


also there’s this:

with one indication of the way fox has seemed to drive the coverage of crime

and the effect it has had on polling:

do you actually have statistics for that? there was a covid bump in some places for some crimes, now that we’re past that, i am unsure

also one of those things “homeless encampments” might be a “crime” but it is distinctly different than the other ones you mention. seeing people without a place to live definitely makes people uneasy, and i think it’s a driver of feeling there’s “more crime” - even when people living houseless are more often the victims


Ah, the classic “suspicious person” report; but without a description.


Not only that, but it tends to be dominated by overtly conservative and biased outlets owned by Sinclair. Not only do they not cover local crime, they highlight urban crime.


As noted in the part you left out of the quote, these are anecdotal examples from people I know in L.A. and the Bay Area. They started talking about burglaries and car break-ins increasing on their street years before Covid, starting around 2011. Before then they rarely mentioned these things happening and instead usually gushed about how safe their neighbourhoods were.

My personal theory is that crime continued trending downward overall in large California cities per actual statistics but that sometime after the crash of 2007-2008 criminals figured out that if they were going to risk prison for stealing stuff they might as well go where the real money is. That gave the residents who’d rarely or never encountered it there before the false impression that over-all crime was going up in the city.

I also think it’s partly the result of those California cities’ urban design, where a sort of de facto class and ethnic segregation is in effect. In affluent NYC neighbourhoods that are used to more diversity, the narrative has been one of declining or at least unchanging crime levels since the 1990s.

Yes, that would fall under the other term I used in the comment to which you’re responding: squalor. As you note, there’s an often unfair association with criminality, but it’s still just disturbing and unpleasant to see a street encampment a block or two away from a street with $2-3-million homes. That’s more the case when, due to various factors, the encampments weren’t really in these affluent neighbourhoods prior to 2007-8 (and not really because there were more police in the city as a whole before then).


The problem isn’t really what percentage of Republicans hold extreme views. The problem is that percentage includes the ones in the government.

Things like “the government should do more to stop guns getting into the hands of bad people” or “people are right to be concerned about how climate change might affect us”? Sorry, but I’m sure I’m not imagining that party had denying those built into its platform, back when they even had one.


maybe just brain fog. it wasn’t clear to me if you were saying it was just anecdotal or if people in affluent areas really were experiencing more crime

i also wonder what the correspondence between the use of nextdoor and the number of talked about breakins would look like. a shift from private embarrassment to public indignity

i mean it does depend on the crime. littering and public urination are crimes. so i’d imagine crime rates do technically go up overall.

it’s almost like high housing prices cause people to lose their place to live :crying_cat_face:

also, yeah. i suspect when people say “need more police” what they mean is: get rid of those other people who make me uncomfortable. they’ve really got no idea if 1, 3, 5, etc officers per thousand people is a good ratio, nor what their local ratio is, or whether it’s changed