I'm trying to do some research

Flea

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Maybe some of the LEOs here can help me. In my house hunting, I'm trying to find out about the crime stats for my prospective new neighborhood. I'm a little concerned because the revitalization grant mostly targets neighborhoods that are clearly In Trouble, with the exception of the one I hope to buy into. This raises the question for me of what I might be missing. It may or may not be a crime issue, but I need to find out before I make a major commitment.

I called my local PD and asked for statistics comparing the new place with my current setting. I was hoping to have a general conversation with someone ("so, how do these neighborhoods stack up? are they improving or declining?") The officer said he's not allowed to give private opinions, which is understandable; unfortunately they asked me to fill out a formal Open Records Request instead, and they only keep numbers going back two years. I was hoping for numbers going back before the Big Crash to get a feel for overall trends. I had to call a separate number to ask about gang activity and got what struck me as a non-answer - just because there's crime doesn't mean it's gang related, and most of the residents in a given place are law abiding citizens. Reminds me a little of my journalism days.

Clearly I'm losing my touch for officialese. The private opinion is exactly what I need from someone on the ground. Can someone suggest a way that I can get the straight scoop? This is a big deal to me because I'm trying to escape a bad situation, and there's no point in buying into the same thing somewhere else. Am I asking the wrong questions here? Am I asking the wrong people? I'd really love some suggestions.

Thanks in advance.
 

Carol

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Try asking a firefighter for a private opinion. THey know just as much about the goings on in a neighborhood and may not be as tightly constrained. That helped me when I had my condo.
 

jks9199

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Most cops aren't going to give you a direct answer to something like that themselves. The way they don't answer may be instructive, though, if you read between the lines, and if you ask the right questions. Especially if you do it very informally...

You should also be able to obtain the statistical data that they present to various sources, too.

You can also check out the FBI's Uniform Crime Report and the National Crime Victimization Survey. Read 'em carefully, and you may find something out.
 

Nomad

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Obviously they may have a vested interest in telling you what you want to hear, but have you tried asking your real-estate agent? If you have one that's been established in the area for awhile, he or she probably has a pretty good idea of good and bad neighborhoods, and why some are less expensive than others.

You risk having some smoke blown up your butt, but it couldn't hurt to get his or her opinion. Just a thought.
 

bekkilyn

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Perhaps you could try talking to some of the people who live in the neighborhood. For one, they might give you the real scoop. For two, you can get a better idea if you'll like the people who would be some of your neighbors if you chose to live there.

Another idea is to visit the neighborhood at different times during the day and see if anything makes you uncomfortable. Some of the local business owners may be able to fill you in on a few things too. Even if they're not located right in the midst of that neighborhood, they might know something about it.
 
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Flea

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Nomad, talking to realtors is an interesting idea. I haven't had much good luck with that in the past because of Fair Housing laws. Realtors simply can't respond to certain questions without potentially jeopardizing their licenses. I agree with the policies on general principle, but it can be a little frustrating for my purposes too. I may try asking the realtor who's selling my current place since he has no economic stake in my new purchase - he might at least tell me what questions realtors can and can't respond to.

Jks, I had some trouble navingating those pages, although they look like gold mines. I couldn't seem to get beyond stats at the state level. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, I looked up the # for the neighborhood association prez. I've also put in a call to the city office administrating the grant to ask them the criteria behind the target neighborhoods. I plan to grill them both, and then maybe attend a neighborhood association meeting. I think that's the most I can do short of going Cloak And Dagger. :uhyeah: If I'm content with those results, I'll go ahead and bid on the house. Besides, I'm starting to suspect that I'm subconsiously putting off the decision because homebuying is nerve wracking in general.
 

jks9199

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The UCR and Crime Victimization Survey are national level reports. You might be able to drill down somewhat if you go through it carefully, but probably not much below state level. But you can contact the PD and ask for their UCR stats from the years you're interested in.

You may also want to check with the state government. Most states maintain similar stats... It often helps get federal funding.
 

5-0 Kenpo

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Don't call. Most agencies have a recorded telephone line, which the officer can then be accountable for what he says.

As you are going through your prospective neighborhood, if you see a cop, stop by and ask them their opinion, and tell them why you are asking. You will probably get a more insightful answer.

And just be careful with statistical reports regarding crime trends. Most crime categories other then homicides tend to be underreported.
 

jks9199

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Don't call. Most agencies have a recorded telephone line, which the officer can then be accountable for what he says.

As you are going through your prospective neighborhood, if you see a cop, stop by and ask them their opinion, and tell them why you are asking. You will probably get a more insightful answer.

And just be careful with statistical reports regarding crime trends. Most crime categories other then homicides tend to be underreported.
Good point. She's got a much better chance of getting an answer if she asks informally.
 
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Flea

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5-0 Kenpo, I hadn't thought of recorded lines but that makes a lot of sense.

I did talk with someone at the city today, and she said the neighborhood was one chosen for this grant because of "blight" and a high proportion of renters. Renters yes, but I don't see blight there. At least not as I understand blight - my current street is much more blighted than anything there.

In the meantime, she said, this grant program has been expanded to cover the entire city. Yay! I searched listings for the whole area in my price range, and ... very little changed. This whole thing has me totally exhausted. I should probably just get this house, ambiguous blight or no. At least I'll be happy indoors.

:tantrum:
 

5-0 Kenpo

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5-0 Kenpo, I hadn't thought of recorded lines but that makes a lot of sense.

I did talk with someone at the city today, and she said the neighborhood was one chosen for this grant because of "blight" and a high proportion of renters. Renters yes, but I don't see blight there. At least not as I understand blight - my current street is much more blighted than anything there.

In the meantime, she said, this grant program has been expanded to cover the entire city. Yay! I searched listings for the whole area in my price range, and ... very little changed. This whole thing has me totally exhausted. I should probably just get this house, ambiguous blight or no. At least I'll be happy indoors.

:tantrum:

One problem you will find with asking law enforcement is that we only respond to the bad things. If there are 5 bad things that happen where we work, but we see none where we live, where we work is a ghetto!!!

I was in a class with some guys who work where I live, and they were talking about how much of a ghetto it is, you know, with half a million dollar single family residences, very few apartments, and very little crime.
 

punisher73

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In response to the "crime isn't always gang related" answer. Look at the back of traffic signs entering the neighborhood and surrounding areas. Gangs love to tag their territory.

See if you can request how many calls that Dispatch received through 9-1-1 on the street you are interested in. This way you can see what people are calling for (and see what kinds of neighbors).

Also, check your local library for old newspapers on computer and if it has a "crimewatch" section do a search for things that happened on that street.

I also second the notion of going at various times of the day and week. If you see lots of older people walking the street with each other in the evening it is a good sign. Also go at about 11pm or after. In some neighborhoods (not very good ones) the residents sleep througout the day when it's hot so the street seems very quiet, but then they come out after 10 or 11 and get really loud or play games in the street. We get alot of those types of noise complaints.
 
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Flea

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I walked my dog out there around 10:30 tonight, and I was very impressed. I saw several families lounging in their living rooms with the front doors open. The streets and the alleys are well lit, with very little litter. Even the few trash-heaps in the alleys were deliberately piled and kept within the confines of particular yards. (We have several anonymous illegal dumps here.)

I asked one lady what things were like there, and she started out with "Drugs are eeeeeeverywhere." So I asked her about deals out in the open on the streets, people clearly high walking around at all hours ... all very routine on my street. She gave me a long quizzical look, decided I was kidding, and laughed. No, she said, it's not that bad. It's pretty safe, actually.

I'll give it another pass or two on Saturday, and if I'm satisfied I'll make the bid. Pretty much any neighborhood is going to be better than where I am now, and the house itself is great. I really appreciate everyone's input on this thread. If you have any other ideas, please pass them along.
 
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Flea

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I'm mostly posting this from the perspective of thinking out loud ... Tonight I went back with a good friend of mine. This friend has a checkered past and thus has a better eye for mischief than I do. We were both impressed - no used condoms in the alleys, no drug deals, very little litter. I stopped and asked several people how they liked living there, and got a lot of simplistic thumbs-up responses.

The last woman I talked to told me not to move there. All the longterm residents, the old folks, are dying off. Their kids are renting out the houses, she said, and the neighborhood is paying the price. And furthermore the housing project a couple miles away is being razed - something I'd heard but hadn't connected with this particular context. The project is one of the worst in the city, and of course all these people have to live somewhere. I do believe a similar razing in 2005 played a big role in my current neighborhood's decline.

So ... more homework! On Monday I'm going to the city Housing Authority to find out exactly how they plan to relocate all these residents, when, and where. On the other hand, this woman also told me that whatever I do, I should avoid B___ street. It's rough!! So naturally my friend and I trucked right over to see what she considered rough. The houses were slightly run down, cars were a little older, the grass grew a little taller, and it had slightly more litter. Big deal. So maybe she was being alarmist about the housing project closing.

I'm wearing myself out here, but I'm really gunshy (pun intended) after living where I am for 5+ years. I just can't make the same mistake again. I really appreciate all the advice I've gotten on this thread. Thank you all very much indeed.
 

jks9199

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Renters vs. actual homeowner/residents is a problem all over, and it's going to get worse over the next several years. Lots of foreclosures are being bought up by people, and will be rented out. If the owner is an active and involved landlord, it won't be a problem. Or if they hire a good management company. But, if they're not paying attention so long as the rent check comes in on time... You'll have problems.

Same thing with razing a problem area. In many cases, it's been a very successful way to address an area that's just gone to hell. But, at the same time, as you said... those folks are going to go somewhere. And some won't go far...

Don't overanalyze. The bottom line is that even the worst neighborhoods can have good people. And even the best have dirtbags. I've done gang search warrants in communities that I couldn't begin to think of affording... Trust your gut, and talk about your concerns with the realtors. But don't let them be an easy way to delay or talk yourself out of a good move for yourself.
 
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