Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A line on a map

Seattle and Vancouver on the Pacific west coast - dueling cities
Years ago a police chief told me he planned to hire a renowned criminologist to compare the murder rate in Vancouver to Seattle. He was tired of hearing Vancouver was so much safer. He knew there was a gang war in Vancouver and didn't believe the numbers. Both cities are similar in size, economic wealth, relative policing strength, and age demographics. They are only a 3 hour drive apart.

A murder gap? No way.

That criminologist never showed. Depending on whose version of the story you believe, either the data wasn't available, the criminologist wasn't available, or the study was done but unavailable for public view.

I have a simpler explanation for the Vancouver-Is-Worse-Than-Seattle theory.

It isn't!

Nor is BC versus Washington State. British Columbia has a population of 4.6 million; Washington State 6.9 million. In 2012 BC suffered 71 murders (1.5 murders per 100,000 people) while Washington State suffered 203 murders (2.9 per 100,000, twice that of BC).

On the U.S. side of the border lies majestic snow capped Mount Baker. The view is magnificent from both Vancouver and Seattle. For hundreds of miles beyond the border posts, BC and Washington are separated by only the 49th Parallel - nothing more than a line on a map.Yet if you view Mount Baker from the U.S. the stats suggest your risk of being murdered doubles.


Washington State has a history of innovative prevention programs.
The Office of Crime Victims Advocacy and Community Mobilization Program (defunded next year due to cutbacks) are considerably more advanced than what BC offers by comparison.

True, BC's CPTED is deeper (Washington lags considerably) and BC's Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers receive more advanced basic training called problem-based learning.

But can that explain the homicide gap?

Next blog: Why the difference?