Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chicago Criminal lawyer comments on reported crime statistics being manipulated

This Chicago Criminal lawyer has posted here and here about the decrease in crime. Now comes news that those figures are in fact manipulated to make a rosy picture.

Last night I was at Sullivan’s with a friend who shared that a friend of hers had her car stolen in Chicago. It was stolen by two kids who didn’t know how to drive. They hit three other cars while driving the car for their joyride. Guess what? The owner of the car was actually pressed by the police not to file a report and despite the car owner’s wishes (how do you tell law enforcement officers with weapons no?) charges were not filed against the youthful offenders.

In New York City, this is not uncommon, nor do I believe it is unique to New York:

February 6, New York City, NY
In interviews with the criminologists, other retired senior officials cited examples of what the researchers believe was a periodic practice among some precinct commanders and supervisors: Checking eBay, other Web sites, catalogs or other sources to find prices for items that had been reported stolen that were lower than the value provided by the crime victim. They would then use the lower values to reduce reported grand larcenies — felony thefts valued at more than $1,000, which are recorded as index crimes under Compstat — to misdemeanors, which are not, the researchers said.

Others also said that precinct commanders or aides they dispatched sometimes went to crime scenes to persuade victims not to file complaints or to urge them to change their accounts in ways that could sometimes result in the downgrading of offenses to lesser crimes, the researchers said.

“Those people in the Compstat era felt enormous pressure to downgrade index crime, which determines the crime rate, and at the same time they felt less pressure to maintain the integrity of the crime statistics,” said John A. Eterno, one of the researchers and a former New York City police captain. His colleague, Eli B. Silverman, added, “As one person said, the system provides an incentive for pushing the envelope.”

But as the city annually reported reductions in crime, skepticism emerged in certain quarters — several police unions other than the one that assisted with this survey, elected officials, residents in certain neighborhoods — about whether the department’s books were being “cooked.”

Concerns over crime statistics are not unique to New York. Police departments have faced accusations of tampering with statistics in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, New Orleans and Washington.
You can only wonder if the statistics we have here in Chicago are accurate, especially given the current economic recession. It just flies in the face that crime would be down, and that’s not to suggest that our first responders are slacking off at all.

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