Along with the rest of the country, crime in the Portland metro area has been rapidly declining for the last few decades. With a population of over 600,000 within the city proper, Portland has its share of issues, but is still safer than most similarly sized cities. Several of Oregon’s safest cities, such as Lake Oswego and Beaverton, are also located very close to Portland.
It can be a bit of a rabbit hole researching crime for any city, and broad changes occur over multiple years rather than from year to year, but it is still helpful to have some context and a couple of resources to turn to when you’re considering moving into a new neighborhood.
Mapping crime in your neighborhood
Portland Maps is a useful tool if you want to check recent crime activity for a specific address. Put in an address (the example below shows the Hasson 23rd office) and click the ‘Public Safety’ drop down to see an overview of all reported person, property and society crimes reported within the quarter mile area containing that address in the last year.
Crime data for Portland Maps is only kept for addresses within Portland city limits, but you can still see general information about other addresses, such as police and fire jurisdictions.
Mapping historical crime trends
The article Crime in Context, by the nonprofit organization, The Marshall Project, offers an in depth analysis of crime trends in the United States spanning several decades. The article features an interactive map that allows you to tinker with a map showing various trends in crime between changeable points in time. The graph below shows that the rate of violent crime in Portland is down 79 percent from the years 1988 and 2014.
The Marshall Project notes a lot of interesting (and relieving) facts about national crime trends in general. For example, in regards to the common fear that crime is on the rise across the US, the above article states:
“A recent study posited that 5 percent of city blocks account for 50 percent of [that city’s] crime. That is why most Americans believe crime is worse, while significantly fewer believe it is worse where they live.”
Examining the systems of articles ranking the ‘safest cities’
While you’re browsing the myriad of articles ranking the so called safest and most dangerous cities in Oregon, keep in mind that each study generally utilizes different data sets and metrics to obtain results. For example, This article by The Oregonian compares two studies ranking the safest cities in Oregon, both of which used different systems to obtain their results. Check out the metrics for different studies below.
CreditDonkey: study used FBI data from 2014 on violent crimes. Figures were calculated as crimes per 1,000 residents.
BackgroundChecks: Also used FBI data from 2014. Included internal research and an analysis of social media and language. Figures calculated as rates normalized per 100,000 residents.
The first study understandably came up with more small towns in the final list (#1 Condon; population 700), while the second study posted many larger cities (#1 West Linn; population 25,992).
Ask your friendly Drew Coleman Team neighbor!
We all live in different areas of Portland and most of the team is comprised of Pacific Northwest natives. Our work also takes us all across the region and we get to know all of our clients and the neighborhoods they live in. If you have any questions about the feel of an area you’re considering, or about this article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, we always love to chat about Stumptown.