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The killing of George Floyd in June 2020 has put the spotlight on institutional racism in our criminal, legal, and prison systems. How do different racial groups experience these systems in Dubuque?  The data below helps answer that question and others. After you have finished looking, please join the conversation by submitting a comment. 
Arrests per Year.PNG

While Dubuque has seen a reduction in both violent crime and overall crime over the past four years, challenges remain. Law enforcement is tasked with wearing many hats in the community. With 24/7/365 availability, law enforcement is often the first and only option when people need help on any of dozens of issues. Traditional law enforcement is often secondary role to community assistance. Connecting community members to the services they need is one of the primary underlying tasks for officers. From brain health issues to food assistance, officers are on the daily front lines in helping the community. While any crime is too much crime, reductions in crime allow officers the time to focus on long-term problem solving with community members, and work to explore equity issues in policing.

Mark Dalsing, Police Chief

Dubuque Police Department

Drug Use And Arrests

National Drug Use.PNG
National Marijuana Use.PNG
All Drugs
Drug Use vs. Arrest - All Drugs.PNG
Drug Use vs. Arrest - Marijuana.PNG

It's imperative that city government begin to practically redefine justice being served. An equitable lens must be the first rule of law and order for every citizen and human being.

Caprice Jones, Director, Fountain of Youth

All Drugs
Black vs. White Arrests 2010-2018.PNG

The data seen here was calculated by comparing the number of bookings reported by the Dubuque County Sheriff's Office to the population numbers for each racial or ethnic group. 


Because demographic data was not available for 2019 or 2020, 2018 data was used.

2020 data is reported through August 14.

How Does Dubuque Compare?

Is Dubuque Unique?

Data was taken by combining the arrest data from all agencies in each county listed in the FBI's Uniform Crime Database. The FBI cautions against making comparisons from the data due to the variety of factors leading to crime and possible differences in agency participating in data reporting.

The Hiawatha Police Department in Linn County did not report arrest numbers to the FBI in 2017, so 2016 data was used.

Is Poverty the Reason?

Poverty adjusted data shows the number of arrests per 1,000 people living below the poverty level.

Dubuque's Neighborhoods

As the oldest city in Iowa, Dubuque contains great historical significance and cultural attachments for many of its residents.  This also means that many Dubuquers may carry strong associations with certain neighborhoods throughout the city.  Whether it's the North End, Downtown, the West Side, Grandview Ave., or any of the other recognizable parts of our city, specific neighborhoods and areas can gain reputations.  Some of these are positive, and others can be very harmful.

Below is a map of Dubuque county showing several different breakdowns of census tracts by demographic, economic, and housing data.  The map can be interacted with and explored, and the filters showing these breakdowns can be changed by pressing the eye symbols to the right of the map.  As you explore the interactive map of Dubuque, consider your own associations with Dubuque, and how those associations compare and contrast with the data on display.

How to Use the Map

  • Click on the triangle on the picture of the map below to begin interacting with the map.

  • You may move around the map by clicking and dragging on the map.

  • Use the + and - buttons to zoom in or out.

  • On the right side of the map are a series of filters showing different pieces of data.  To move between filters, click the picture of an eye next to the filter you want to activate.

    • The eye will be crossed off when it is not active.

    • Only have one filter active at any one time!  Make sure you turn off your previous filter by clicking the eye next to the filter so it is crossed off.

  • You may click on any of the census tracts to see the specific data for that tract and that filter​.

The​ map below has the following filters showing data for each census tract:

  1. Unemployment rate during June, 2020;

  2. Percent of population that is a racial or ethnic minority;

  3. Median age of the population;

  4. Percent of households that are renter occupied;

  5. Percent of households whose monthly household costs are 30% or more of their monthly income.


Add your own reaction to this page so we can include it for future visitors


All data from the charts comes from the 2018 National Survey of Drug Use and Health, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting database (UCR), the Dubuque County Sheriff's Office, and the American Community Survey, which is produced by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The definition of "violent crime" comes from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting database, and is a combination of arrests for aggravated assault, rape, robbery, and murder and nonnegligent manslaughter.

Violent Crime in Dubuque leads to significantly fewer arrests per year than does drug crime or all crime taken together.  The lower number of arrests may result in greater fluctuation from year to year, due to a smaller sample size.

2014 saw a sharp spike in all crime primarily due to a significant increase in "Drunkenness" arrests (this was the largest numerical change).

The National Survey of Drug Use and Health considers "illicit drug use" (what we identify as "All Drugs") as "marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and methamphetamine, as well as for the misuse of prescription stimulants, the misuse of tranquilizers or sedatives, and the misuse of pain relievers." The FBI's Uniform Crime Database records "Drug Abuse Violations - Grand Total" (what we identify as "All Drugs") as the possession, sale, or manufacturing of marijuana, "opium or cocaine or their derivatives," synthetic narcotics, and "other - dangerous narcotics."

All demographic data used for 2020 and 2019 comes from the 2018 American Community Survey, which was the most current demographic data available at the time of developing this Data Walk.

County level data was calculated by adding together the arrests for each reporting agency in the county.  The Hiawatha Police Department in Linn County did not report arrest numbers to the FBI Uniform Crime Database in 2017, so 2016 numbers were used in substitution.


  • The data on unemployment during COVID-19 (June 2020) are estimates produced as part of a August 4, 2020 working paper by Yair Ghitza, chief scientist at Catalist, and Mark Steitz, principal at TSD Communications and an adjunct professor at Colombia University.  The working paper and data are available here. Additional visualizations can be found at the New York Times here. This data is estimated unemployment data, and should not be considered as reported data.

  • The 2018 Census Bureau's American Community Survey provided data on:

    • The percentage of residents who are a racial or ethnic minority,

    • The median age of residents,

    • The percent of households that are renter occupied, and

    • The percent of households where the monthly housing cost is 30% or more of the household's monthly income

Continue Exploring

Both our education system and our housing system have starkly unequal outcomes along racial and ethnic lines.  This section takes a deeper dive into the data from Dubuque.

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