Crime Sprees

Stories like this are becoming a daily or even multiple times daily occurrence. From ABC 7 Chicago:

CHICAGO (WLS) — A series of armed robberies happened to at least four businesses around the city from Monday into Tuesday night.

On Monday night, around 9:44 p.m. in the 100-block of Halsted Street a man entered a business with a steel hammer and threatened to batter the employee.

The offender then took some items off a shelf and fled the business southbound on Halsted Street

About 15 minutes later in the 4500-block of Kedzie Ave two men entered the business with handguns and demanded cash.

The offenders were seen getting into a light colored sedan with the items they stole and fled the business in unknown direction.

These all took place on the Northwest Side of Chicago. It is not known whether they are related. In some cases as many as 20 robberies have taken place in a single evening, all perpetrated by a single armed crew.

At RealClearInvestigations James Varney remarks on the discrepancies among the FBI crime data, city/local crime data, the reports of declining crime rates, and the popular percept of increasing crime:

From 2017 to 2019, the U.S. had an average of 16,641 homicides a year. In 2021 and 2022, however, the country saw considerably more bloodshed, with an average of more than 22,000 annual homicides. Even if the 2023 number drops slightly, it will still represent a large increase over the recent past, before the pandemic and racial upheaval set in motion in 2020.

Many criminologists say this illustrates one of the problems with the official numbers that are at the center of public debate: They give a distorted impression of true levels of crime. They note that crime stats have become notoriously incomplete in recent years. In some years many big cities did not report their numbers to the FBI, and there are such wide discrepancies in these tallies that the picture they provide has more blur than clarity.

Declining arrest rates and slowing police response times to 911 calls also help explain why polls show Americans believe crime is rising. The experts say the numbers only give some sense of lawbreaking, while most Americans – the vast majority of whom are not crime victims in a given year – are influenced by their largely media-driven perception of whether society feels orderly.

It’s not just “response times to 911 calls”. As I have mentioned here at least in Chicago a very high percentage of 911 calls that require a police response never get a police response. That means those calls will never appear in the police statistics or in the FBI’s data which depend on those statistics. Shorter: the Chicago crime states are bogus, far below the actual crime stats.

Here are some examples of the discrepancies:

There have also been problems with the data that was submitted, including the news in 2022 of major problems with the St. Louis Police Department data, and more recent revelations that figures for sexual crimes provided by the New Orleans Police Department were wrong.

In Baltimore, the Police Department and various news reports put the total for 2022 homicides between 332 and 336, but the FBI’s dataset puts the number at 272. Baltimore police officials did not reply to RCI’s inquiries about the wide spread in the reported numbers, and if anyone in the city’s police department had brought the matter to the FBI’s attention.

The Baltimore department acknowledges its numbers may not be the same as those it submits to the FBI, but states on its website that “any comparisons are strictly prohibited.”

Similarly, the police departments in Milwaukee and Nashville did not respond to questions about divergences between their stats on robberies and those from the federal bureau. Milwaukee police reported a 7 percent increase in robberies in 2023, but the FBI recorded a 13 percent decline.

A considerable amount of slack is cut in the post for the FBI and the other law enforcement agencies:

Criminologists cite other discrepancies in the official measurements they use to assess the situation. While FBI stats show declines in violent categories, the Department of Justice’s survey reports more people saying they have been victims of such crimes. The Centers for Disease Control figures for homicides, which have long moved in the same direction as the FBI’s, started exceeding the FBI’s in 2020 and the gap has widened since then.

“I wouldn’t say the FBI is cooking the books, but that the data they are putting out is half-baked,” said Sean Kennedy, the executive director of the Coalition for Law, Order and Security, which has pushed back against recent media reports that crime is falling noticeably in the U.S.

“So it’s not a conspiracy but a rush job, and it’s giving people a false picture,” he told RCI. “They infer something is true, and then because it’s politically expedient they don’t bother correcting it.”

I can’t help but speculate everyone is responding to the incentives they have. When the number of police officers decline as illustrated in this graph:

there are bound to be fewer responses. When the higher-ups demand that you do something, the line of least resistance is to change the statistics rather than change your policing practices.

3 comments… add one
  • PD Shaw Link

    In Illinois (and I believe NY has had similar recent experiences), bail reform is putting people back out on the street with criminal records who would previously been detained until trial. The repeat offenders continue to commit crimes (violating parole) and get rereleased again pending trial. It’s sometimes estimated that 20% of criminals commit 80% of the crimes, which is probably true at least to the extent a person’s past criminal record is highly predictive of future criminal activity.

    The Illinois law went into effect 9/18/23, but over the rest of the year, my city had a 21.5% increase in serious offenses over the same period the previous year. The largest increase were for sex offenses (rape) and burglary/breaking & entering, which nearly doubled. Probably too small of a sample at this point, but I assume we will start hearing more stories that point out people like Winston Elguezabal killed his wife while on pretrial release awaiting trial for domestic battery.

  • TastyBits Link

    New Orleans seems to be getting better, but I suspect it is just a lull. To make matters worse, the Louisiana legislature decided to make permitless concealed carry legal. So, the French Quarter seemed like the OK Corral, but now, all the gunslinging will be legal.

    On the NOPD statistics, it is my understanding that the state reported them incorrectly. NOPD still treated them as sexual assault cases.

    NOPD has a officer shortage of at least 1/3 of the needed force. Some districts have 4 or 5 officers patrolling. Increasing pay means hiring people who only want the salary, and it usually includes decreasing the quality.

  • steve Link

    There is also a National Crime Survey that asks people about crime and is used to track what percentage of crimes are not reported. People writing on law enforcement and crime generally believe that homicides are pretty accurately reported, but i have no doubt that some individual cities screw up. There are also academic departments that track them by looking at news articles, hospital reports and police reports. From their efforts we know that homicides are down again in the early part of this year. (The 2022 and 2023 reports are in for homicides and they dropped in both years.)

    IIRC, Chicago still has one of the highest per capita number of police and spending is pretty high. Homicides went up and then down while the number of police dropped.

    The popular perception of crime? It’s almost always that crime is increasing. From Gallup April 2024.

    “Americans tend to believe crime is up, even when official data shows it is down. In 23 of 27 Gallup surveys conducted since 1993, at least 60% of U.S. adults have said there is more crime nationally than there was the year before, despite the downward trend in crime rates during most of that period.”


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