Crime reporting distorts your perspective.
Last week, I wrote or edited three major crime stories. I’m working on two more for next week’s Sun and I’d not be shocked if another came my way between now and Monday evening when I must file the last of my stories.
I’ve covered a number of crimes since I wrote my first Crime Log in July 2005: aggravated assault, arson, burglary, hate crime, murder, robbery, embezzlement, fraud, rape, physical child abuse, incest, etc. I haven’t covered espionage or terrorism yet, but seeing as we have two military bases in our circulation area I’d not be surprised if such crimes came across my desk one day.
That list would lead visitors to this Web site and this town with the impression that the Sun Region is a rough place. Yet it’s worth remembering that we’re talking about crimes spread out over four communities—Seal Beach, Sunset Beach, Rossmoor and Los Alamitos—spread out over nearly six years.
In that context, it is obvious that crime is as low in this area as it can be. As long as human beings live in this area of approximately 50,000 people, you’re going to have a certain amount of crime. Some of it will be quite ugly crime, too.
As a reporter, I have to remind myself of that context. Certainly other communities see more ugliness—I know, because I subscribe to the Orange County District Attorney’s press releases. I hear about all the prosecutions the DA’s Office deems newsworthy. Some days, I hate opening my e-mail. It’s full of sad, ugly news about rotten people in communities I have never visited. Fortunately, it takes seconds to determine if a case is related to the Sun Region and one second to hit the delete button.
All in all, the Sun Region is a pretty quiet and safe place to live.
It’s amazing, really, when you realize that we are sandwiched between Long Beach and Huntington Beach—two communities that are nice enough, but which have significant problems with gangs and violence. Freeways and surface streets connect those two communities with our peaceful little Sun Region—yet the thugs generally don’t seem to care for the Sun Region.
Mind you, I expect a few gang bangers to visit our beaches during the summer months. Gang bangers, college boys and CEOs share one thing in common: they like to look at girls in bikinis. Yet I’m not aware of any significant gang activity in our area in the summer months. Maybe Seal Beach is just too boring for them. Maybe Rossmoor is too much like a maze—it is too easy to get lost driving those streets. It probably helps that OCSD, Los Al PD, Seal Beach PD and even the California Highway Patrol can frequently be seen driving Seal Beach Boulevard.
Yet I can’t help wondering why it is comparatively safe to walk these streets. (It will never be perfectly safe. If you want a guarantee you’ll never be mugged, move to Chernobyl. I doubt you’ll find much competition for housing.)
Why are these streets so seldom mean? I want to identify, if I can, the cause of our good fortune so that we can protect our good fortune. It’s a question worth asking. So I’m asking: what do you think? Why do you think Seal Beach, Rossmoor, Los Alamitos and Sunset Beach are safer places than Long Beach and Huntington Beach?