CSU Northridge -- October 31, 2003
Study Provides Data for 'Scorecard' on Latino Safety
The message is mixed when it comes to safety and Latinos, according
to a new study by a team of researchers at Cal State Northridge’s
Center for Southern California Studies.
On the one hand, there is little evidence that property or hate crimes
are causing a serious problem for Latinos in the community. However,
violent crimes seem to be disproportionately concentrated within the
Latino community and directed against Latinos.
“Our study shows that across most types of crime, Latinos arrest
and victimization rates are about what one would expect given their
proportion of the area’s population. Indeed, across most categories,
including total juvenile crimes and felonies, the rates are lower than
one would expect,” said Martin Saiz, director of the Center.
“However,” Saiz said, “with respect to the most serious
crimes, including homicides and aggravated assaults, Latinos are over-represented
as victims and arrestees. We tested our results and found that the relationship
between concentrations of violent crime and Latinos was statistically
The Center for Southern California Studies conducted the study for a
new report, “Latino Scorecard 2003: Grading the American Dream,”
released today by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. The report
evaluated how Latinos in the area fared in five key areas: health, education,
economic development, housing and public safety.
The Center’s researchers took a comprehensive look at how Latinos
are served by the various agencies responsible for the public’s
safety in the Los Angeles area. They talked to representatives from
such agencies as the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles
County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles County Probation
Department. They also mapped and then conducted a statistical analysis
of crime data involving Latinos in the Los Angeles area.
The concentration of violent crimes in Latino communities troubled researchers.
“Although Latino juveniles account for fewer total arrests than
one would expect, they account for more homicide arrests that their
population size would justify,” Saiz said.
Saiz and his colleagues found little evidence that property or hate
crimes are serious problems in the Latino community.
“However, there is a fear that reporting such incidents will require
revelations of their residency or citizenship status,” noted Amalie
Orme, director of research for the Center. Another problem, Saiz said,
is that Latinos are “woefully underrepresented” among the
area’s sworn police officers.
“This inequity will hamper programs designed to build trust and
foster more positive relationships between the police and the Latino
community. Underrepresentation may also undermine efforts to encourage
Latinos to more fully report crime.”
Orme said the study provides a baseline to measure future progress for
how the community and law enforcement deal with the issues raised in
the report. “It will serve to amplify the direction that both
the community and law enforcement will need to take to move toward the
future because we’re dealing with hard data,” she said.
“We will be able to come back and see how the community has fared
in two or five years time. Hopefully, this study will create an open
dialogue between those people involved in public safety—not just
those in law enforcement—and the Latino community. People have
to realize that public safety is not just the responsibility of law
enforcement. It’s neighborhoods, schools, churches. Everybody
is involved in public safety, especially in the Latino communities.”
CSUN's Center for Southern California Studies was established in 1996
to promote the study, documentation, and understanding of the cultural,
historical, and ecological resources in the Southern California social
and environmental setting. Housed in the College of Social and Behavioral
Sciences, the center provides a bridge between diverse disciplines across
the campus while strengthening research ties between the university
and the community. The Center provides locational and policy analysis
to the university and Southern California communities, local businesses,
and government agencies.
Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, email@example.com