MMB: Exploiting Crime Statistics

CPD & Media Both Exploiting Monthly Crime Statistics

Using crime statistics appropriately seems out the reach of both the CPD and the Chicago media.

“Last month, Chicago recorded its deadliest September in more than 25 years as the city approaches 600 homicides in 2020 with a quarter of the year still left to go.”

What?

How many of the last 25 Septembers had:

  • A worldwide pandemic going on?
  • Tens of millions of Americans lose their jobs over the preceding 6 months?

AND

  • Record breaking economic, housing, and health insecurity?

The answer is none. So, there is no reason to compare any of the crime statistics to past months or seasons because we have never seen anything like these circumstances in a hundred years in America.

It might be easy, but that is no reason to do it. It is actually a reason not to do it. Unless of course you are exploiting the data for clicks.

This also goes for the CPD. Here are some doozies from the CPD exploiting the crime data.

“The department said overall crime is down 7% year-to-date in 2020 compared to last year…”

“The CPD on Thursday reported that the number of other serious crimes, including criminal sexual assaults (35%), burglaries (23%) and thefts (23%), were each down significantly last month compared to September 2019.”

What?

ExploitingOf course, overall crime is down. There are probably tens of millions of daily interactions that are not occurring every day because people are working from home. The CPD knows this but they just cannot help themselves to exploit these meaningless numbers to push their public relations campaign. If you were looking for something different from Supt. Brown’s tenure, then you know nothing about his history in Dallas. Of course, neither does the Chicago media so you are not alone. 

That sexual assault number is completely fictitious. It doesn’t mean that the CPD’s official numbers don’t reflect the drop, but the CPD knows that what is mostly likely occurring is that survivors, who many of know their abusers (around 90%), may be sheltering in their homes with the abusers and are just not reporting the abuse. Think about it. Where exactly does a survivor of abuse go in a pandemic if they are abused by someone they are living with? The CPD should be embarrassed for exploiting that drop in their numbers. They won’t be though. I cannot think of anything that would embarrass this Department.

Context Matters

This is a decent story from Frank Main in the Sun-Times about the shift in the official position of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO). However, Main should have included some context about former Chicago Police Department (CPD) Superintendent Phil Cline’s history. After all, Cline was forced to resign amidst numerous controversies related to the brutality of his officer.

The way this story reads is a former CPD official is pissed at Kim Foxx for even thinking about not fully supporting the life incarceration of a man that was convicted of killing a police officer, even if the man had served over 40 years in prison. It would read a lot differently if Cline’s tenure was put in context for readers. The credibility of those quoted in the story is vital context for readers. 

Maybe something like this would have been better:

A former Chicago Police Department Superintendent who was forced to resign for his handling of multiple scandals involving brutality and corruption within the Department thinks Kim Foxx should come clean and explain why her position has shifted towards a neutral position on parole for Ronnie Carrasquillo. Cline also has his own sorted past with the justice system, as early in his career he took the 5th amendment in a high-profile federal drug case rather than explain how he came into possession and used a forged state court warrant to seize drugs and cash from the home of a suspected drug dealer.

In this version, Cline’s comments are properly framed so the reader can understand that he really doesn’t have a position of credibility to talk on any issue involving ethics or morals. You could also use the term disgraced to describe his tenure at the Department. You could talk about the fact that the FBI had two moles inside internal affairs as Cline’s pet unit, the Special Operations Section, was pillaging communities of color and his internal affairs unit did nothing to stop them. Last but not least, you could talk about how Mayor Daley passed his entire command staff over and hired an outsider to run the Department, and then when Jody Weis came in he forced all of them to leave the Department. 

The misdeeds of police officers need to follow them throughout their careers and even after they leave the Department. Allowing Cline to appear in the media without the context relieves him of the burden of his actions and allows him to take another high-profile, well-paying job with credibility and esteem—one he couldn’t get if the media did their job. 

Lightfoot Flip Flops Again

ExploitingLightfoot certainly seems more and more like Emanuel and Daley as time goes on. It doesn’t mean she hasn’t done some things that are different and good. Her latest flip flop on making sure she keeps control over the hiring and firing of the CPD Superintendent is really bad. There is no way candidate or reformer Lightfoot would have let her mayoral predecessors get away with this power grab. Obviously, things change when you are the one in power.

The article also clearly documents Alderman Taliaferro’s flip flop on supporting GAPA. He now is all for the Mayor keeping the power to fire the Superintendent. Why? Because she is the one politically liable for his firing. You have to give it to him. Despite how truly awful that is, he was transparent about his reasons.

Spielman did a pretty decent job with the article until you get to the end where she decided to run two unchallenged quotes from the Mayor. Horrible. You can always count on Spielman to cower to those in power at some point in her article. She just cannot help herself. It seems like she has an addiction to running unchallenged quotes from powerful people.

Author: Tracy Siska

Tracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.

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