Saturday, February 01, 2014

ALDERMAN RELEASES CRIME STATS: Accurate Numbers, Some Misleading Combinations

This CWB graphic compares the number of crime incidents as reported in
alderman Tom Tunney's report on Friday and our report last Tuesday.
See our spreadsheet HERE.
Alderman Tom Tunney released a set of statistics Friday to show the progression of crime in our 44th ward since 2003.

We are very pleased that he did.

The statistics provided to Tunney by the police department are spot-on with the statistics that CWB reported in our story last Tuesday. We aren't surprised by that. Our numbers come from the same data base as the police department's.

The released statistics reinforce the accuracy of what we've already reported: Wrigleyville and Boystown's ward is lagging the rest of Lakeview, the city, and the three other wards that represent Lakeview in crime reduction. Our ward has the biggest increase in robberies and the smallest decrease in overall crime vs. 2007.

There are two graphics in the alderman's release that may mislead the causal reader–those are the sections labeled Criminal Sexual Assault and Assault/Battery. Let's take a look.

CRIMINAL SEXUAL ASSAULT: Misleading or mislabeled?

The alderman's "Criminal Sexual Assault" stats
also include a completely separate crime category,
"Criminal Sexual Abuse," giving the appearance
of a significant decline.
Criminal sexual assault is Illinois' legal term for what is generally referred to as rape.

As CWB reported on Tuesday, there were 19 criminal sexual assaults in 2003 and 18 last year, a decline of one incident or 5%.

So, why does the alderman's graphic show a criminal sexual assault decline of 38% from 34 cases to 21?

Because, for some unknown reason, the sexual assault statistics in his report also include occurrences of a completely different crime category: criminal sexual abuse.

The two crimes are distinctly different and are not generally lumped together.

"ASSAULT/BATTERY": Up is Down

Once again, the alderman's report rolls two completely different crimes into one category. Assault is threatening to hurt someone. Battery is actually doing it. (At least this time the page is properly titled.)

The effect of combining these two crimes in one graphic is that readers are left with the impression that assaults and batteries are down.

This graphic from the police department may lead you to believe
that assaults and batteries are down since 2003.
Not true. Assaults are down. Batteries are up.
That is not the case.

Assaults are down since 2003, but batteries are up 7%.

In addition to the combination of different crime categories, the assault/battery stats released by the police department do not include crimes in which the victims were:
  • Police officers
  • Classified as senior citizens
  • Protected employees, such as CTA bus drivers
Domestic battery reports, which were relatively stable 2003 vs. 2013, are also excluded from the alderman's report data set.



THEFT: A Note

The theft stats shown in the alderman's report are slightly different from ours. That's because his data set excludes Financial Identity Theft. There were 96 of those in 2003 and 65 in 2013.

A Little Commentary

Along with the release of the police department's statistics, the alderman offered some commentary.

We have some of our own, of course.

In listing the things he has done "to make our community a safer place," Tunney wrote,
[I] worked with the Chicago Police Department to have our area designated as an entertainment district in order to secure additional police officers for our ward's streets every Thursday-Sunday from 8pm-4am.
Let's be clear here. The entertainment detail is NOT comprised of additional police officers. The detailed officers were already assigned to our district as a tactical unit. That unit was reassigned to work the entertainment detail. They are NOT additional.

Also, this:
It is most effective to analyze crime from one year to the next and month to month. This helps quantify areas in which we did better or worse and assists Chicago Police leadership in developing an overall plan to target problem areas.
Month-to-month analysis is exactly what got us into the robbery problem that we have today. Month after month, police leadership and CAPS officers told community members that monthly variations in robberies were "upticks" or "essentially flat." Essentially flat is a term used when a crime increases by a couple of incidents. It's essentially flat. Even though it's up. Welcome to the uptick.

And, finally, our favorite topic. Overall, crime is down.
I am pleased that under Commander Voulgaris' leadership we have seen a 10% reduction of crime overall in the 44th Ward from 2012 to 2013. However, we have more work to do.
Mmm. Yes. And we've also lost 25% of the district's manpower. Guess what happens when you have 25% fewer police officers to respond and file police reports? Fewer crimes are reported.

The alderman's full statement is available online.

RELATED
CWB'S Spreadsheet Comparing Crime Rates in Our Ward, Lakeview, Other Lakeview Wards, and the City Overall