April 19, 2014

"A dead body with a hole in it demands attention," but not necessarily in Chicago

One of the verities of crime statistics analysis is that homicide stats are more trustworthy than other kinds of statistics. But if the cops are under a lot of political pressure, as Chicago cops were after their recent murder spree, well, a bunch of homicides can turn into just plain dead bodies. 

Chicago Magazine looks into ten recent cases of massaging the homicide stats.

It's still harder to make homicides disappear than burglaries, but it is eye-opening.
   

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait wait wait--"as Chicago cops were after their recent murder spree"--Chicago cops went on a murder spree recently?

Google, google, huh. Apparently so. At least sort of, maybe one cop on one two-state spree, unless he didndoit, and the guy who did is dead.

I'm not clicking through and reading all of those articles just to find out what happened.

--Discordiax.

leftist conservative said...

the american economy and even the USA itself as a nation is maintained in part through a skein of misleading, massaged and sometimes outright bogus statistics.

Stats about the economy, about educational outcomes, about scientific studies, about everything under the sun.

Most scientific studies are bogus.
Crime stats, incomes, spending etc. Most of it is either misleading or massaged or even fake.

The Z Blog said...

Some time back Baltimore decided to cut the rape numbers by calling them simple assault and strongly discouraging victims from pursuing the issue. Worked like a charm.

Anonymous said...

Off-topic, but telling. THE ATLANTIC has a new piece on the return to segregation in american education. Here is a scene at an AP class in a 99% Black High School:

"He passed out an essay question about D. H. Lawrence’s novel The Rainbow. As the students began to write, a girl sitting to his left scrunched up her nose and raised her hand. She couldn’t spell a word she wanted to use in her essay. Jones told her to look it up in one of the heavy red dictionaries in the baskets below their desks.

“You know what I don’t understand?” the girl said, a pen poised at her lips. “You always tell us to look up the word. How are we supposed to look a word up if we don’t know to spell it?”"

(THE ATLANTIC http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/04/segregation-now/359813/)

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of college, when they would actually send crime statistics to kids and parents showing the number of robberies, rapes, murders, etc. Rapes would inevitably be zero. Yeah, right.

Anonymous said...

Paint by the numbers - e.g., massage the numbers to paint a more favorable picture of crime.

But who will buy the shoddy paintings? Who are the likely or hoped-for customers? For how long can they be fooled? What are the likely repercussions once the sham is revealed?

cipher

Douglas Knight said...

I looked into Chicago's murder rate in early 2013. The high rate in 2012 was due to the first few months of that year, probably because it was a warm winter. People freaked out because it crossed the magic number 500, but by then the crime wave was already over. The month they noticed, December 2012, had a low murder rate, even for a December.

To get seasonal numbers, I used a source that was harvesting weekly police reports. Every year its total was different by a couple percent from the end of year police numbers. But sometimes it was higher and sometimes it was lower; deaths were reclassified in both directions. But I don't know if they made many more retroactive changes in 2013 than in the past. (and of course they could be massaging already before the weekly reports)

Douglas Knight said...

The initial reports of homicides in the weekly reports are tabulated here. It counts 439 homicides for 2013. The final official yearly number was 415. So 24 homicides, 5.5% were reclassified in the favor of the police. That's higher than the normal plus or minus 2%. But the initial number is still dramatically better than the 2012 final number and only 4 (1%) worse than 2011 final number. (But, again, there might be shenanigans the numbers before the weekly report.)

Anonymous said...

In the Uk the problem of lying about stats was so bad a research association said that gov stats can no longer be trusted l. For years the pro immigration multicultis were shrilly defending mass immigration and calling racist! To anyone who even hinted thereto was a rape epidemic its a hats thought.

Auntie Analogue said...


Officials categorizing murder downward prompts me to invert the famous Texas aphorism:

Some killings need people.

Anonymous said...

It's the interesting to observe how the Chicago murder statistics are directly proportional to the outdoor ambient temperature - almost like that beloved factoid of high-school science in which the chirping rate of a certain specie of cricket would give a very good approximation to the outdoor temperature, if the chipr-rate was fed into the relevant equation. How 'spot-on' is the Chicago body-count, (when fed into the relevant empirical formula), to the ambient temperature, I do not know, but it would make an interesting reseach project.

The explanation is as follows: Chicago, being a cold place in winter naturally sequesters the malefactors indoors during the winter months, lest they get a case of 'brass monkeys'. Being indoors, the malefactors have less interactions with random persons, and thus less chance to kill them. The rate of going outside the project is directly proportional to the outdoor temperature, hence the murder rate.

Anonymous said...

Hyperlink Code

This is some of the detail behind Chicago's murder figures. Kanye West has worked with Chief -- beginning after the lil JoJo incident. It has been said that Kayne needs to bolster his street creed. This is a single example of a Chicago murder, but one I find more disturbing than Trayvon Martin. It isn't just Kanye -- but the lack of outrage and shame over this is nauseating. Another neighborhood kid was killed for wearing a lil JoJo memorial t-shirt. And was lil JoJo riding in a pimp mobile? How about on the back of a BICYCLE.

Another aspect of this that isn't discussed outside the local area is the 'theory' that the Chicago Police broke up some mega gangs and the vacuum was filled by small, neighborhood mini gangs (for lack of a better term) some of which have no leadership and are below police radar. The cops have considerable leverage over traditional gangs -- as far as homicides go, at least. Not that they are turning them into Boy Scouts, but rather read them the riot act regarding high profile crime.

All this is simply 3rd hand local gossip, but the number of murders is a headline number. The murder rate is too complicated for innumerate Americans. Locals have a good idea what is going on in the city and don't even need to discuss it -- or write about it, since it is a 'third rail' subject.

Chicago's biggest murder problem is being large. The murder rate isn't particularly high. If you excluded the dozen worst neighborhoods, it would look similar to New York.

I would advise anyone interested to look at Douglas Knight's link -- which openly lists the race of the victims. The exclusion of race in newspaper murder articles may be due to as much or more reluctance of identifying the race of the victims rather than the perps.





Ali said...

Looks like Rahm Emanuel is fizzling out. No 2016 run for him.

Anonymous said...

It's endemic in the LE community now.

My city was one of the first nice suburbs in the state to start feeling the cheap heroin wave back in the late 1990s, to the point it started to get a reputation after 5 overdose deaths in 2004. The real estate industry started pressuring the mayor and aldermen, and the state came up with some money, and voila, the overdoses ceased.

How? I was actually there when a kid overdosed at a local establishment. The cops were called, the EMTs arrived, hit the kid with Narcan and carted him away to the hospital.

It appeared in the local paper's police report as a "drunk and disorderly patron".

I can only imagine the pressure to fudge the numbers in big cities with more serious crime .

foseti said...

Charlie LeDuff (in Detroit: An American Autopsy) tells a story about going to the morgue and counting bodies tagged as homicides. When he compared the count with the number of reported homicides, there was a . . . discrepancy.

The only person that got in trouble was LeDuff, for writing the story.

Anonymous said...

5 dead, 16 wounded so far this weekend, including a double homicide on the 8200 block of South Houston that was about some Facebook postings.

Anonymous said...

the initial number is still dramatically better than the 2012 final number and only 4 (1%) worse than 2011 final number. (But, again, there might be shenanigans the numbers before the weekly report.


I suggest you read the linked article.

Anonymous said...

I've tried axing this question over at Second City Cop, but if there are any Chicago-beat crime-story aficionados on this thread:

ARE WE EVER GOING TO HEAR OF ANY LEADS IN THE INVESTIGATION OF THE MURDER OF TRINITY UNITED CHURCH CHOIR DIRECTOR DONALD YOUNG?

Or are we just supposed to read Hillbuzz and Ulsterman and extrapolate from there that Brennan's peeps offed Young just like they offed poor Lt Quarles Harris Jr?

Anonymous said...

I looked into Chicago's murder rate in early 2013. The high rate in 2012 was due to the first few months of that year, probably because it was a warm winter. People freaked out because it crossed the magic number 500, but by then the crime wave was already over. The month they noticed, December 2012, had a low murder rate, even for a December.


Murder rate and murder number are two different things. As the linked story mentioned, Chicago's population is currently a million people smaller than it was in 1960. Even using the faked murder numbers the Chicago murder rate is high, higher than it was in 1960 and four times higher than the murder rate in New York City.

Chicago said...

The numbers get massaged all the way down the line. If they can play around with homicide numbers then they can really manipulate the lesser crime stats. Everyone I know has anecdotes of cops discouraging them from filing reports, from talking them out of it by saying it would be a waste of time to becoming surly and intimidating. It's usually hard say if it's a result of orders from on high to minimize crime stats or due to the more prosaic reason of lazy, do-nothing collect-a-check types not wanting to be bothered. It's all anecdotal but when one hears enough of them then there's usually something to it. The usual wisdom that's handed out to the public is that warm weather inspires homicide and it's up to the police to rush in and prevent it. Not much is said about the people actually committing them; they have no agency but just react to stimuli.
Chicago is like 3-4 different cities pushed together and is a real ongoing HBD laboratory. About a third of those living within the city boundaries are morons and therefore these are the sort of issues that are built in and can't be wished away. Managing the moron population so things don't spill over too badly is what much of what it's about.

Anonymous said...

Chicago's biggest murder problem is being large. The murder rate isn't particularly high.


Chicago has a population of 2.7 million people. New York City has a population of 8.4 million. Los Angles has a population of 3.8 million.

Chicago's official homicide rate for 2013 was 15 per 100,000 people. For New York and Los Angles the numbers were 4 per 100,000 and 6.6 per 100,000 respectively.

The most dangerous cities in America are New Orleans, Detroit, and Baltimore, all at or near 40 murders per 100,000 people per year. They're all smaller than Chicago. Being large does not create a murder problem.

The important things to notice about crime in any given area is (1) the percentage of the population which is black, and (2) whether that percentage is going up, going down, or remaining stable. It's a pretty good rule of thumb that if the black percentage of the population in location X is increasing the crime there will also be increasing, while if it is decreasing the crime rate there will be decreasing.

Anonymous said...

You can always put the cause of death down as "lead poisoning".

ironrailsironweights said...

I would advise anyone interested to look at Douglas Knight's link -- which openly lists the race of the victims. The exclusion of race in newspaper murder articles may be due to as much or more reluctance of identifying the race of the victims rather than the perps.

Most of the "white" victims have Spanish names.

Peter

Harry Baldwin said...

Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy was in the NYPD from 1981 to 2006. He ended up in charge of the CompStat program, which has had a history of fiddling with statistics to make it look like crime rates were going down.

In 2006, McCarthy left the NYPD to become police chief in Newark. Upon his leaving, some of his unsavory history was reprised on a site called NYPD Rants, on which New York City police officers could voice their opinions anonymously. Due to legal action from the city the site has changed its name, but the rant, titled GOOD LUCK NEWARK PD! , has been posted elsewhere. It's too long for an iSteve comment but it really makes you wonder about the machinations that enable a guy like this to rise to the top of the police hierarchy. In 2011, McCarthy was hired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to take over the Chicago Police Department shortly after his election.

Big Bill said...

"Second City Cop", a Chicago cop blog, has a lot of recent discussion on the Chicago article.

Everyone is providing their personal stories on downgrading crimes, some going back to the 1980s.

Anonymous said...

Rahm Israel ( yes, that actually is his middle name) Emmanuel is mayor of Chicago ( because, like Hillary Clinton, former Senator of New York, he nver really lived there till he ran for office) . There is simply no way stats are being massaged in order for Rahm to be electorally enhanced for a possible congressional or even presidential run. There is no way a donor like Sheldon Anderson wouldn't promise to run hundreds of millions of dollars worth of negative ads against a presidential contender's opponent if that candidate promised to nominate someone with Rahm's cultivated sensitivities for Secretary of State post John Kerry.
America can have a son of a bartender as leader of the opposition, a son of a drunken-skip-out-on-the-single-mother-named-Stanley- outgoing-president, a son of an Irgun terrorist as Secretary of State, ( and if George Will gets his way), a Second son of George " I like New World Orders and all ensuing foreign entanglements forwinth" Bush as president ( Jeb).

Who says social mobility is dead. In an American Century, John McCains can win peace prizes, and let the dead bury their own dead, and all that, it saves on detective overtime pa anyway, and another weapon or two that will help protect our freedom can be bought with that.


Note: its hard to text like this while driving to Easter dinner. I hope Sheldon has a happy Easter too.

David said...

Redefining how things are counted, in order to perfume a bad performance, is a practice of corrupt organizations.

Check out the site shadow stats dot com.

Paco Wové said...

From Anonymous' 'Hyperlink Code' above:

"...shooting death of 18-year-old rapper Lil JoJo, but not all of the ... artist's peers are in mourning. Yesterday ... Chief Keef ... responded to the news by taking to Twitter to openly mock JoJo before apparently succumbing to an uncontrollable fit of laughter.

"Its Sad Cuz Dat Ni--- Jojo Wanted To Be Jus Like Us #LMAO," Keef wrote. "HahahahahhahahahahahahahaahhAAHAHAHAHA #RichN---aS---.”

JoJo ... was gunned down in a drive-by while riding on the back of a friend's bike. The murder comes on the heels of JoJo engaging in a rap beef with Chief Keef and fellow upstarts Lil Reese and Lil Durk. In April JoJo released a diss song aimed at the Keef and Durk."


What a vile, disgusting, degenerate culture.

Oberlin sheet wearer said...

Reminds me of college, when they would actually send crime statistics to kids and parents showing the number of robberies, rapes, murders, etc. Rapes would inevitably be zero. Yeah, right.

Well at my college they taught us that 1 out of every 4 women is raped so I guess we were more aware than you.

the famed Anonymous said...

"Auntie Analogue said...

Officials categorizing murder downward prompts me to invert the famous Texas aphorism:

Some killings need people.

4/19/14, 11:41 PM
"

^This comment's existence lends credence to the poor ranking of Texan cities on the comedy map.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting if someone reexamined multi-decade violent crime trends in light of better trauma care and statistics manipulation.

Jefferson said...

The only thing that prevents Chicago from completely turning into another Detroit is the fact that Chicago still has a sizable large White population where Detroit does not.

A lot of White capital still runs through Chicago to keep that city financially afloat.

Anonymous said...

"Some time back Baltimore decided to cut the rape numbers by calling them simple assault and strongly discouraging victims from pursuing the issue. Worked like a charm."

It's like that everywhere now - especially sexual violence.

The police are under pressure to fix the stats and promotion depends on it so in areas where crime levels disprove the PC narrative one way or another (racial differences and / or mass immigration) senior cops are being selected on the basis of their willingness to lie to the public about what is really happening.

#

"Chicago's biggest murder problem is being large. The murder rate isn't particularly high."

If they stop lying do they drown?

Anonymous said...

Chicago, like the world in Boardwalk Empire. Saw episodes one and two, and it's one TV series I really liked. Not remarkable but very sharp and professional. And doesn't insult the viewer's intelligence. Tough and doesn't pull the punches with too much PC stuff.

The reason Gangs of NY didn't work was the subject was very big and sprawling but Scorsese had only 3 hrs. So, he crammed in everything, and it was like one highlight after another and another. It had no breathing space. It was all high dramatics, a non-stop trapeze act with no place for the feet to rest.

As for something like Sopranos or Breaking Bad, the limited subject might have made for a decent mini-series of about 10 episodes. There was no need for them to go on forever as the plot got ever thinner and more repetitive.

Boardwalk Empire has a big subject, lots of colorful characters, multiple plotlines, intersecting stories of politics, corruption, crime, business, & culture; and it has lots of time to follow up on various narratives and patiently develop the characters to their full extent.
Maybe it gets progressively worse but episodes 1 and 2 were very good.

One movie that pulled off such a widely varied multiple-narrative about a time and place in American history was RAGTIME, but as its length was limited, it mainly came to focus on the story of the angry black guy. It might have been richer as a TV Series.
I just hope Boardwalk Empire doesn't go on for too long.

Andrew said...

How it works.

My car was broken into in 2000 in Manhattan on Central Park West. I parked it overnight on the park side of the street. The dmage was a broken window, broken dashboard, stolen radio, and stolen CD player. The total value of all damage was I think $1350 which I think made it a grand larceny.

I reported it to the local police station and moved on to trying to get i repaired. About a week later I got a call from the precinct asking me was I sure about the damage value, and was there anyway I could report the damage value as being under I think $1250. I said the damage was the actual cost to repair and I was quite certain of it, but I also asked why they would ask me such a question. The frank admission came back that if I would give them a value under $1250 (again, I am going on memory here), they could reclassify the loss to a lower level crime (petite larceny I think) which would help the precincts statistics. I said I really didn't care what they did as long as it would not affect my reimbursement by the insurance company, which they assured me it would not. After that assurance, I said that I had given them the real damage value, and that if they thought the number was inflated by me, they should adjust it accordingly. I wasn't going to report a different number, but I gave them their opening to massage their statistics to make themselves look better.

That is how these crime statistics really work. Any marginal case is moved to a lower classification if at all possible. Bodies become ordinary deaths or suicides, rapes become aggravated assaults, aggravated assaults become simple assaults, grand larceny becomes petite larceny, petite larceny becomes a misplaced item, etc. None of the statistics are believable.

If you want to know how much crime there really is in an area, use this barometer:

1) Do people have bars on their doors or a gated door or barred in front porch?
2) Do people have bars on their house windows?
3) Do people use anti-theft devices on their steering wheels?
4) Do people leave anything on their front porch that coule be taken?
5) Are homes left unlocked or with windows open and no one home?
6) Are cars left unlocked?
7) Do people leave items visible on the seat through the car window?
8) Are cars parked with their windows down?
9) Are cars parked with their windows down and items visible on the seats?

And of course:

10) Are there any random shifty blacks to be seen anywhere in the area?

When I was growing up in Philadelphia, we had bars on our windows and storm windows over the sash windows and kept the car and house locked at all times and all items of temptation removed from view. The preferred method of door locks was multiple locks per door and multiple locked doors per entrance.

When I later lived in Madison, WI, we could leave the house unlocked and the windows open and go shopping at the mall and leave bags of newly bought items in the back seat of the car in the mall parking lot with the windows down to keep the car from getting hot.

That is the difference between living in a neighborhood that is 60% black vs. living in a neighborhood that is 100% white.

Anonymous said...

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/03/gops-prague-spring-is-officially-over.html