Thursday, July 28, 2011
Questions Remain About Crime Numbers
You’re going to hear a lot of chest thumping and fist pumping from Mayor Greg Ballard’s campaign over statistics that show crime dropped in Indianapolis, but, as always, the devil is in the details.
Ballard and the Department of Public Safety do deserve credit for a drop in crime of 4.4 percent in Indianapolis and a violent crime drop of 2.7 percent, as reported by the Indianapolis Star. The latter number, however, is apparently well behind the national average drop of 5.5 percent. Property crimes are down 4.7 percent, and Ballard can truly wave a banner over that one because the national average was only a drop of 2.4 percent. The results were published in an article by the Indianapolis Star’s John Tuohy yesterday.
While violent crime dropped, Tuohy reports that aggravated assaults are up in Indianapolis 6 percent, and these are the crimes many truly fear. News reports show a recent wave of these types of crimes on the Monon Trail as well as downtown along the canal and Monument Circle. These are all areas residents of the city enjoy and contribute to a higher quality of life. Add in that there were bullets flying following the downtown fireworks on Independence Day, and the stats on aggravated results make much more sense and much more impact.
Unfortunately for Ballard, the headlines in the newspaper and the top stories on television news oftentimes don’t seem to make it feel like there has been a drop in crime. For the victims of those crimes as well as the families of the victims, an argument on the statistics of crime really doesn’t make much of a balm for the scars…physical and emotional…inflicted by a criminal.
That’s the perception that becomes the reality. Even though the numbers are better overall, the feeling in the city is that Mayor Ballard and Public Safety Director Frank Straub’s “whack a mole” strategy (Ed Treacy's words not mine) on crime is simply not working.
There are also a couple more curious details buried in Tuohy’s article. Apparently, Indianapolis has conveniently missed a deadline or two on being included in the FBI’s report on crime. Indy was one of just three cities with a population of over 500,000 that will not be included in the FBI’s report. Why? According to Tuohy, PSD Straub claims understaffing as one issue. In addition, Tuohy writes thatwrites, "He (Straub) also said he demanded that analysts be meticulous in classifying the data before it was submitted."
"Meticulous in classifying the data."
That definitely could fuel the fire of those that think the crime books may be cooked in the City of Indianapolis. Understaffing could also be the cause of a Mayor that has not fought hard enough to get a police department that can effectively fight crime. Whatever the case may be, it's an extreme embarrassment for the city's numbers to be missing from this report.
It's another example of suspect leadership by the Ballard Administration in public safety. Hopefully, someone in the City-County Council will demand the Public Safety Director to answer for these data reporting delays.
As is always the case when dealing with Greg Ballard, sometimes one step forward represents two steps back when the details are analyzed.
I guess you have to ask yourself, "Are these the kinds of results you should expect from a Mayor that has claimed that 'public safety is job one' and made it a central part of his platform?"