Saturday, April 26, 2014

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT: City Errors Lead To Understated Crime Stats In Mainstream Media

Mainstream media outlets like the Chicago Tribune that rely on info from the city's online Data Portal to compile crime statistics and plot maps are churning out junk information lately. That's because huge chunks of crime data have gone missing from the Data Portal online database.

The Chicago Tribune's "Crime In Chicagoland" page for Lake View is
missing about 22% of the area's crime due to an error in the city-provided
database.
And nearly all of the mainstream media's fancy graphics and maps rely on the city's Data Portal.

The Tribune's "Crime in Chicagoland" Lake View page states that, between March 15 and April 14, there were 93 theft cases in Lakeview. In fact, there were 127.

The Trib site says there were 10 robberies. There were 13. Burglaries? Sites that rely on the Data Portal say 13. There were 26.

CWB was able to cross-check major crime reports by comparing Data Portal information with a separate city database called CLEARMap.

All together, the Data Portal is missing at least 22% of crimes reported in Lakeview between March 15 and April 14.

We also cross-checked the Austin neighborhood and found that a similar percentage of its crimes are missing from the Data Portal.

CWB discovered the problem during a routine audit of our robbery data for Wrigleyville and Boystown. Our in-house records showed that the neighborhoods had 29 robberies this year as of April 19. The city Data Portal only lists 21.

Nearly all of the missing incidents appeared on the Data Portal previously, but have since disappeared. Gone from the list are robberies from January 29, February 2, February 26, March 22, March 29, March 31, April 4, and April 5. As of this morning, none of those incidents' case numbers appear anywhere in the city data base, meaning that they are gone completely, not simply reclassified.

Given the police department's recent "issues" with statistics — a Chicago magazine report that detailed the apparent downgrading of homicide cases and an inspector general's finding that the department incorrectly counted assault victims — we wonder if there is any sense of urgency at the department to correct this black hole of crime statistics.
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18 comments:

  1. Heads should roll with this kind of information. The public is being lied to about their own safety. Be safe everyone!

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  2. Stop wondering. The answer is no. The City and CPD do not want the public to know the truth. That's every press release, every beat meeting, every Q & A is metered to the smoke & mirrors theorem. The most valuable thing to these city leaders is an ill-informed public. That's why this blog is so important.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! And I wish a real journalist like Carol Marine would expose the BS.

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  3. FYI, I think the same fudging of numbers took place in NYC and the Village Voice did a major story about it.
    It would be interesting to see that article and the fallout from it.

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  4. I hope you've reached out to the Tribune about this!

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    Replies
    1. You mean we hope the tribune reaches out to CWB? Shame on the traditional media. I do think I may as well cancel my Tribune subscription since they don't care or are pressured not to do investagative local stories like this. It takes balls to expose half truths and blatant lies by some in the CPD and the political machine. Great investagating journalism team CWB and thank you for doing the hard work!

      Delete
  5. If Rahm and his sidekick chief of police would spend as much time fighting and preventing crime as they do trying to project their image through their media puppets and pet Chicagoland tv show, there wouldn't be a crime problem.

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    Replies
    1. Noteworthy discussion on this very subject and the despicable crime situation in our city on Judge Jeanine tonight. It is reprehensible to witness such elaborately skewed PR when the community needs the bald faced TRUTH. If this portends as badly as I fear as the warm weather rolls out, and there's not an immediate improvement in reality-based law enforcement, the National Guard needs to be called in. This situation is beyond unacceptable and shameful

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZ2osKb89f4

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    2. Ok, please cool it with the National Guard stuff please? When you call in the guard are you setting up curfews? Initiating martial law? Suspending civil rights? Where is the line? Shoot to kill orders? Everyone out after 10pm gets detained? Checkpoints??? How much liberty are you willing to cede in order to feel safe?

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    3. National Guard policing role in New Orleans: http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2009/02/national_guard_leaves_new_orle.html

      Old Illinois discussion: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?id=7406233

      It won't happen if for no other reason than politics. State Police? That's possible.

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    4. Ok, please cool it with the National Guard stuff please? When you call in the guard are you setting up curfews?

      ~ ~ ~

      Order has to be restored. What's your suggestion, given the obvious inability or lack of will of the CPD and emanuel to even acknowledge the seriousness of the situation, never mind handle it?

      Delete
  6. This has been this way for decades folks.

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    Replies
    1. Nope. Numbers were very reliable as recently as February.

      http://crimeinboystown.blogspot.com/2014/02/alderman-releases-crime-stats-correct.html

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  7. = a lying mayor. good luck

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  8. Great reporting, CWB. Thanks!

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  9. Somehow this info needs to get out to a wider audience. What can be done?
    Heads should roll.

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  10. These fake crime stats are there because that's what Rahm wants. When he runs for reelection, he can talk about how crime is down and the great work he has done. All this stuff is orchestrated to bs the people just like he did with the CNN story. He is lying to us and he has to go.

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    Replies
    1. You really don't like him, do you.

      Delete