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  1. #1
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Dallas police chief touts 4% drop in crime for 2007

    Could this be sub-titled "How to lie with statistics?"

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont...e.2a5be7a.html

    Chief touts 12% dip in violent acts even as murders rise; stat changes cited in some drops

    11:33 PM CST on Monday, December 31, 2007

    By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News
    jtrahan@dallasnews.com

    The year hadn't even ended Monday when Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle declared a victory in the city's fight to clean up the streets: Violent crime will be down about 12 percent for 2007 and overall crime down about 4 percent.

    But at least part of the good news is because of the way the Police Department now counts some crimes, which was changed to more accurately adhere to national statistical standards.

    Also Online
    Crime in Dallas: Statistics and stories

    The most serious violent crime of all, murder, is up about 8 percent for the year, with at least 202 dead.

    The last time Dallas saw an annual increase in murder was 2004, when slayings were up 9 percent and 244 were killed.

    According to preliminary end-of-the-year statistics, which will not be finalized until next week, 2007 will end with the city nearly meeting Chief Kunkle's 5 percent overall crime reduction goal, but falling far short of the 5 percent reduction in murders.

    At a news conference Monday, Chief Kunkle focused on the positive, saying that 2007 was the sixth year in a row of declining violent crime. "Looking at the crime statistics over time, violent crime is down to the lowest level since the 1960s," he said.

    First Assistant City Manager Ryan Evans said Chief Kunkle is "doing a very good job" and has the support of the City Council.
    He said that for the city to achieve more dramatic reductions in crime, leaders must focus on the "root causes" of crime: a lack of quality neighborhoods and housing, a high dropout rate, gangs and drugs.

    Chief Kunkle on Monday said he expects to end 2007 with dramatic drops in aggravated assaults, which are down about 24 percent, and rapes, which are down more than 20 percent.
    Those crimes were two of several the department recently realized it had been overcounting for years. In the last few months, the department has been reviewing how it counts crimes and correcting discrepancies. Other crimes for which changes were made include vehicle burglaries, business robberies, shoplifting and other thefts.

    The chief said he did not know what portion of the estimated 4 percent overall drop is because of the new accounting methods, other police programs or just the natural ebb and flow of crime trends.

    "We know what's driving some of the increases and decreases, but I don't know I can give you an actual percentage driven by" the new accounting procedures, the chief said.

    He said that by next week, when the department is expected to release its final 2007 statistics, the impact of the reclassified crimes will be more clear.

    Lt. Rob Sherwin, who is heading up the effort to clean up the city's crime statistics, said the new accounting practices "had a dramatic impact," but he had not run the numbers yet for the end of the year.

    The department undertook the massive departmentwide review of the way it counts crimes after officials realized that in many categories, Dallas was not following the rules of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, the annual nationwide roundup for crime statistics.

    For instance, the rules allow cities to count as one crime a string of, for example, vehicle break-ins, so long as they happen about the same time and within one or two blocks of each other. A crime spree is still MULTIPLE CRIMES, i.e., more than one victim, more than one address, more than one vehicle!!! This tells me that Dallas was the only city being truthful - Up till now!!!

    A string of home break-ins, however, count as separate crimes.
    Also, Dallas followed several other large cities when it began having people who had their cars stolen sign an affidavit swearing to it, which is designed to cut down on insurance fraud.
    Dallas officers have for years been reporting as aggravated assaults what should have been regular assaults, because there was no serious bodily injury.

    Also, some crimes were classified as rapes when they should have been assaults or some other crime. This particular discrepancy stemmed from a misunderstanding of the FBI's definition of rape, officials said.

    For example, the FBI requires that a rape involve forcible sex acts between a man and a woman. Dallas police had been counting some sex crimes that did not involve forcible sex acts.
    The department for years has battled the perception that the city is particularly crime ridden, driven mostly by annual statistical comparisons showing Dallas has more crimes per capita than any other city over 1 million people.

    Earlier this year, the City Council set a goal of an 8 percent reduction in overall crime for 2008, mostly to keep the city on pace to lose that distinction.

    Mr. Evans praised Chief Kunkle and the department's efforts to correct the way it counts crimes.

    "Continuing to inflate crime statistics doesn't make sense," he said.

    Before the department began changing the way it counted crimes, it worried about the public thinking it was "cooking the books."

    Department officials continue to stress that the changes in how a criminal act is reported to the FBI does not change the amount of crime going on in Dallas neighborhoods, or how responsive the department is to victims.

    "It doesn't mean that crimes aren't prosecuted at any lower levels," Chief Kunkle said. "What it's for is so our accounting practices are more in line with the FBI's rules and what other cities are doing."

    As for the increase in murders, "I knew it would be difficult to be as low as last year," Chief Kunkle said. "We've had good months and bad months. "There is a percentage of murder involving drug crimes, and those are the ones that we should have some impact on," the chief said. "All the other reasons people kill each other, I'm not sure how much we can affect that."

    THE NUMBERS GAME


    Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said Monday that crime will be down for the year. A preliminary look:

    12% Estimated decrease in violent crime, but the department now reports some crimes including aggravated assaults and business robberies differently to be more in line with FBI guidelines used by other cities. This skews the numbers downward without really affecting crime.

    4% Decrease in overall crime. Chief Kunkle's goal had been 5 percent.

    8% Increase in the murder rate; the chief's goal had been to cut it by 5 percent this year. Even so, thus far Dallas has had the same number of murders in 2007 as it did in 2005: 202.

    2% Increase in business burglaries. In September, the City Council, after 21 months, rescinded a policy supported by Chief Kunkle under which businesses had to confirm that a burglary was in progress on their property before police raced to the scene. (Most business burglary alarms are false, and the department thought it was wasting resources.) The business burglary rate remained almost flat before, during and after the policy was implemented and rescinded.

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  2. #2
    Jks9199 is online now The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Crime stats have always been "massaged" to fit the needs of the chief or the politicians, or both. They probably always will be...

    Let's look at murder. Pretty simple, right? You got a dead guy; he either committed suicide, was killed in an accident of some sort, died of natural causes, or was murdered, right? (Let's ignore cases that are unknown...) Well, if you've got 10 guys that were murdered this and you had 8 last year, that was an increase of 2 bodies. A 25% increase. But, if your population last year was 8000 people, that made for a murder rate of 1 per 1000, right? If your population increased to 11000 this year, your murder rate FELL, even though you had more dead guys! (I'm picking numbers for convenience, not necessarily to reflect actual events.) You can even interpret FEWER dead guys as an increased murder rate! And that's before you get into games of definition... For example, I'm working an aggravated assault; a guy told some to stop, presented a knife, and the victim ran off, getting cut in the process. Now, we know that the odds are it was robbery attempt, but the suspect never got the words out... so it's an aggravated assault.

    Now, why would a chief or politician want to adjust the statistics? Let's say the chief wants the board of supervisors to fund 3 more cops; he probably wants to show that there's a crime problem. But, a councilman has an axe to grind; he got lots of tickets growing up, was busted for some stupid offenses, and just plain doesn't like cops. So... he looks at the same data, and finds that there is no crime wave; in fact, crimes dropped, and they need fewer cops!
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  3. #3
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    Yeah, there's plenty of council members in Dallas with an axe to grind - some of them have been kicked out of office in handcuffs because of corruption, but their political allies are still on the council.

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  4. #4
    Morris is offline Chief Wheaties Pisser
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    UCRs are completely voluntary . . . and have been manipulated for years to enhance or degrade a city for money, prestige, etc.

 

 

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