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If it Bleeds, It Leads – Not So True for Black Crime

If it bleeds, it leads—that’s the typical attitude in mainstream media to get the most clicks, viewers, or readers. This behavior usually leads to unbalanced news coverage, and certain parts of the city are labeled negatively. This is often the case for the East Side, where the perception is that the “Black side” of “town” has the highest crime rates.

In actuality, much of the Black community has moved to outer parts of San Antonio, such as Converse, and closer to Sam Houston High School or in the area of Houston Street and Loop 410. The “historic” East Side, closer to downtown, has fewer Black residents than it had 20 years ago. About 7% of the estimated 1,997,417 people in Bexar County in 2019 are African American. The county population is 60% Hispanic or Latino, 28% white, 3% Asian, 2% multiracial, and less than 1% each American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or some other race.

Of all people currently living in historically redlined neighborhoods, 6.4% are Black, mirroring the percentage of the county population overall. The population of historically redlined neighborhoods (near East Side) is far more likely to be Hispanic, according to data from the State of the African American Community in Bexar County.

Thanks to the San Antonio Police Department, residents can get up-to-date data on crime statistics in the San Antonio area through the Open Data Initiative. The Black Life Texas magazine staff plugged in some zip codes to get an idea of the prevalent crime areas. Some zip codes had more theft if there were more retail stores in the area, such as malls or colleges. The crime was also somewhat equitable – various areas had peaks and dips. Also, the numbers slightly varied if we plugged in numbers on different days, maybe because cases were being thrown out or closed.

By looking at another source – CrimeGrade.org – it too had similar data and said most crimes happen nearer central parts of the city and where people are clustered, such as the airport or parks. For instance, the area around Lackland Air Force Base (now Joint Base San Antonio) had a crime grade of D-, as well as Olmos Park. Castle Hills and Leon Valley did slightly better with a D +. Shavano Park area got a whopping grade of F. This data site gave San Antonio an overall crime grade of C- and said every 5 minutes (on average), a crime occurs in San Antonio.

CrimeGrade.org also stated that the C grade “means the violent crime rate is slightly higher than that of the average U.S. city. San Antonio is in the 40th percentile for safety, meaning 60% of cities are safer and 40% of cities are more dangerous.”

Also, in May 2024, News 4 reported more than 21,000 car break-ins across San Antonio from May 2023 to May 2024. The area of 78216 (North Star Mall area) had the most break-ins. The story said shopping centers and the area around 78249, where the University of Texas at San Antonio sits, were the popular areas for car break-ins.

Also, according to the Uniform Crime Reporting System, violent crime or murders in the San Antonio area were down slightly over 30 percent as of May 31, 2024, compared to the same time last year. This parallels most U.S. cities, which are showing an 18.1 decline in murders.

The decline has been attributed to the San Antonio Police Department’s hot spot policing in 2023, as reported by Axios in April of 2024. Axios said this was “the first phase of the Violent Crime Reduction Plan that University of Texas at San Antonio researchers created for the city. The method involves officers sitting in marked police cars for 15 minutes in identified “hot spots” where violent crime is most likely to occur.

The Crime Reduction Plan also includes other strategies to reduce crime, including trying to stop the crime before it begins and better rehabilitation for repeat offenders. Lack of resources is also a catalyst for crime, such as trying to feed a family, provide childcare, or get a stable job. Overall, San Antonio can do better to give its residents tools and access to get from a C- to at least a B +.

Ebony Huerta Wells has over 25 years of writing and media experience. She was a former business journalist with a major newspaper and worked for other niche publications.

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