Calgary Community Crime Map Fails to Tell Full Story

A recent story in the Calgary Sun reports the ranking of Calgary neighborhood crime rates according to 2014 statistics, just released by Calgary Police. The Sun story notes that the Beltline and downtown core show the highest crime rates, while eastside communities including Forest Law, Dover, Marlborough, and Falconridge are also among the highest.

At the same time, neighborhoods like Bel-Aire and most of the residential westside of Calgary have very low crime rates. These statistics are accurate and perhaps unsurprising, but they don't tell the full story of crime's development in Calgary.

For years, the overall crime rate in Calgary has been going down, and is already well below average for a city of its size, compared to both Canadian and international averages. While a report detailing crime rates can be useful, a report that focuses only on crimes committed without reference to overall crime reduction can give a false impression.

In addition, the analysis of the Sun report failed to truly analyze the real-world realities that lay behind the statistics. The report notes that certain Calgary neighborhoods have consistently had high crime rates, these neighborhoods "keep police busy," according to the author.

The author fails to recognize, however, that increased police presence in these neighborhood will mean higher rates of crime detection, while reduced presence in the "low-crime" neighborhood reduces the likelihood that minor crimes in neighborhoods like Bel Aire will be reported.

Calgary remains one of the safest cities in the world, no matter what neighborhood you're in. That's a number we can all be happy with.