Tuesday, May 20, 2014

MANIPULATORS: 19th District Stars In Magazine Exposé

Image: Chicago magazine
Chicago magazine has published part two of its in-depth look at how the Chicago Police Department manipulates crime statistics.

Our 19th district is front and center throughout the report. Get comfortable and settle in for an excellent read.

One way the department massages statistics is by downgrading serious crimes to less serious categories. Aggravated batteries get knocked down to simple batteries. Robberies—the third most-serious crime category behind homicide and rape—are whittled down to much less serious "thefts." Burglaries? They can become "criminal damage to property" cases in a flash.

We've collected a few of our favorite downgrade stories for the occasion:

• On September 10, 2013, a woman was seemingly robbed outside of the Jewel-Osco store near Broadway and Addison. The offender took money from her and the officer who handled the call told dispatchers twice that the woman had also been punched in the face by the offender. But the official police report says the offender "snatched" the victim's money and makes no mention of the woman being punched. Result? The case is classified as theft, not robbery.

On January 25, a man stepped out of Trace bar in Wrigleyville for a smoke. Five strangers started talking to him and, according to the police report, proceeded to "grab at his pants pockets taking his wallet, keys and cellphone" and then fled in a nearby vehicle. Funny thing: Officers who handled the call on January 25 said that the man had been beaten, too. Sounds like a clear-cut robbery, right? Nope. The final police report makes no mention of a physical attack and the police department downgraded the crime to "pocket picking."

Earlier this month, we told you about a woman who was informed by the police department that the complete stranger who took possession of her cell phone and refused to give it back to her was not a thief. According to the police department, that woman "lost" her phone and officers refused to file a criminal case report. Instead, the matter is recorded as "lost property."

On June 22, 2013, a man reported that an offender followed him into the Bank of America vestibule at Belmont and Sheffield, and forced him to withdraw money. Less than 30 minutes before, a different 911 caller reported that he was forced to withdraw money from a different ATM one block away. In the Bank of America case, even though the victim told the 911 call taker that he had been "forced" to withdraw money, the final police report makes no mention of that. Rather, the report says, the offender "snatched" the victim's money, which eliminates the "force" element required for robbery classification. The case remains classified as a theft, not robbery. Officers never made contact with the victim of the other incident.

On February 26, an apartment was broken into and burglarized on the third floor of a multi-unit building on California Terrace. Police recorded it as a burglary. That same day, the guy who lives one door away from the burgled apartment found that someone had tried to bust open his front door. Attempted burglary, right? No. Criminal damage.
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