Friday, December 30, 2011

'I don’t think there’s anything about which
I will ever be more grateful'

Have you seen these two, wanted for attempted armed robbery on the Light Rail? (Left, via WBAL)

Robberies galore in the southeast and coats for the homeless stolen in the southern, reports the Baltimore Guide

Last week's four murders recapped in the Ink. Says O'Malley of the drop in the murder toll this year, "I don’t think there’s anything about which I will ever be more grateful in public service."

The WaPo follows up on the case following the killing of U of MD student Justin DeSha-Overcash

Police backtrack on the whole "prosecutors are stalling and hindering our cases" thing

Two "doctors" (can you call them doctors if they lost their licenses to practice?) are facing murder charges under Maryland's "viable fetus" law after two botched abortions. The women lived.

Nathan A. Chapman Jr., once a prominent man about town, is now a man about a halfway house*

Hellz yes, tax giveaways need more scrutiny

The FBI says gun sales are up

The Tribune Co. bankruptcy case will lurch on until at least this summer with hearings not starting until May. In better news, the judge has reversed himself, deciding that Zell won't be in line for a bankruptcy payout after all.


Cham said...

I'm intrigued about the choice of burglary item in the Guide: I wonder how the theft of the EZ Pass Transponder is going to work out.

Anonymous said...

So, even the New York Times is reporting on this problem.

So, why doesn't the BaltoSun when it's far worse here?

Just compare the police 911 call volume with UCR-reported incidents.

Something's not consistent.

- Galt

Maurice Bradbury said...

Fenton at the Sun did a tremendous job of uncovering scores of unfounded rapes. I don't know how it would work, practically, to compare 911 call volume vs. crime reports-- there are so many calls and many of them are not about crimes. You'd have to designate an amount of time, listen to every single call and follow up on the crime-related ones. Even if you could even get 911 to release like a day's worth of tapes, that would take a long, long time. One could compare police reports of non-fatal shootings to the local ER's, but even if the didn't match up that's not necessarily evidence of malfeasance, like if a guy came in with a wound and refused to say how he got it, that doesn't necessarily mean a crime took place. Maybe he shot himself in the foot and is embarrassed to say so, you know? I would assume if there were large numbers of people who were burgled, robbed, etc. and the police refused to take a report, we would hear about it somehow. Or is that naive?

Justin Fenton said...

It's folly to compare 911 call volume to UCR and deduce that crimes are being overlooked. It's a far more complex issue, and one of the things holding us back from doing such an analysis is 1.) sheer volume and 2.) historical context. If I found out that there was a significant disparity between cases reports and reports taken, the takeaway would be that this police administration is fudging the stats to drive down crime. But how do we know that hasn't been the policy going back 30+ years? And if so, doesn't that suggest that relatively speaking, crime is in fact actually declining? That is to say, accepting that a certain percentage of cases will be scrubbed annually, unless you believe that they are regularly finding ways to push that percentage up, then the crime declines are in fact real. The real issue is not whether crime is up or down, but whether the public and more importantly the police department have an accurate gauge on the number of crimes being committed throughout the city. And I don't think that comes from the top. I think that comes from overworked patrol officers who have too many reports to write, to victims who don't want to go through with the process, to district supervisors who are trying to make themselves look good. What I've found covering this police department is that far more of what happens can be chalked up to incompetence or circumstances than evil-doing.

The rape investigation was less about 911 calls than the approach of detectives, and there was a clear point in time where you could see that things changed sharply. We never even wrapped our arms around the 911 call issue in that story - it was far too obtuse and lacked documentation to begin to understand. Strictly looking at 911 call volume, rapes should be way, way higher after the changes that were put into place. But I think the fact that it hasn't skyrocketed suggests that it was never a 911 issue to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Rape is kind of unique, as vics are frequently reluctant to report and perceptions about volition become important.

When you look at property crime, principally robbery, burglary, B&E, etc. you only have as the confounding factor residents' reluctance to involve police (for many reasons), but not the stigma seen in legit rapes.

If someone has a better summary measure of criminality than dispatched police 911 volume, I'm unaware of it, but I don't approve of City Hall claiming that crime is declining over long periods when the experience in the neighborhoods is that it's still flourishing.

I have had very personal experience with officers on numerous occasions squelching reports of very, very undeniable and overt crimes.

It's a very natural result of CompStat. Whatever you measure, that's what political pressure within the department will be brought upon to reduce, by any means necessary.

The simplest way to to avoid the consequences of self-reporting is... to omit (or more commonly, to downgrade to UCR part II, which in Baltimore City means under the radar).

Query: how many officers have been dismissed for filing false/omitted reports? I have found the department to be quite resistant, even when confronted with prima facie evidence of knowingly false reports. They'll refile them correctly, but not formally discipline officers. And IAD wants nothing to do with it unless it's corrupt.

Now, I know that individual calls may have their idiosyncracies, but dispatched police 911s, taken as a whole, do portray the annual activity.

Would you care to explain why it is that in the aggregate UCR drops precipitously while 911 does not proportionately follow?

Consider the alternative: is the residual call volume corresponding to a secular increase in unfoundedness? I doubt it.

Care to make the case?

- Galt