Are the LAPD’s Crime Stats Bogus?

Last week there was a lot of talk about LAPD Chief Bratton and Mayor Villaraigosa announcement that crime was down for the 5th year in a row. Most of the talk was pats on the back and congratulations but some people are calling shenanigans on those numbers. On LA Voice Mack Reed asks if the LAPD is fudging the numbers and points to more than a handful of people making that accusation, including some ex-cops who have seen the system from the inside. The issue being brought up is that these numbers are based on reports that have been filed and everyone in the chain of command knows that heads will roll if the numbers are not down so a sure fire way to make sure they go down is to just file fewer reports. This way, regardless of what crime is actually happening, the stats look like things are better than they were. Mack’s post includes links to several people saying that basically it’s unwritten policy at the LAPD to not file reports if they can be avoided, and stating examples of just that happening. Apparently the same system being used in LA (created by Chief Bratton) is under attack in NYC for fraudulent numbers which made crime rates appear to drop.

It sounds kind of far fetched at first, but when you take a step back it suddenly seems plausible. Here on blogging.la we’ve certainly seen things which under this light look a lot different. Earlier this year Spencer made several posts about crime in his block and his attempts to report it. In June he blogged about calls reporting drug dealing on his street where no officers ever came out, and in August he followed up with more reports of drugs and prostitution that were also ignored, and in one case he was told that the LAPD was not responding to “this type of call” right now and to try back in a few hours. No reports were ever filed for those situations, so is crime down on his block? I’ve also posted a few times about slow response times – in May I posted about a 911 call that took over an hour for an officer to arrive (no report was filed), and the following month when a drunk driver plowed into my neighbor’s car it took almost an hour and a half and several calls before the LAPD agreed to send an officer out. I was asked directly “is anyone hurt?” and when I responded saying no I was told that they wouldn’t be sending an officer out and to just exchange info. Yes, for a drunk driver, which last I checked is illegal, and if hell hadn’t been raised they would have let her just drive off with no report their either.

So, the question of the hour is – is crime down or are the numbers being manipulated to make it look like crime is down? Anyone know anything more about this or have more stories involving inaction on the departments behalf? Any officers want to talk to us (under strict anonymity of course) about pressure to keep numbers down by any means? Anyway you look at it there is a interesting conversation brewing here for sure.

3 Replies to “Are the LAPD’s Crime Stats Bogus?”

  1. Sounds serious to me. Govt agencies gaming numbers to make themselves is nothing new. Sometimes it isn’t gaming, and just a change in tactics that falsely make things appear to having improved on usual reports.
    I don’t think Spencer’s experiences are unique. And police may be doing the right thing by prioritizing whether or not to file a report vs. actively patrolling… but who knows?

    In my neighborhood, though, I must say its been dramtically quieter this year than in the past with regards to crime, graffiti, etc.

  2. When I worked at City Hall (not LA), it was all about shuffling numbers and budgets, a shell game if you will. Numbers were correct, but just presented differently. Catch my drift?

    As for all the stories you link to above, if you haven’t already, I would make sure your Senior Lead Officer (SLO) for your area or or the SLO for the area of the story taking place is notified of your posts. Having a relationship with them is a positive thing for your immediate block and surrounding ones and you can always bring stuff up like this and get some hard answers fairly quickly. Senior Leads are there to do community relations and the areas they cover are not too large. For example, Sherman Oaks has three senior leads (covering east, west and north).

    Then what will happen is if your block doesn’t already have one, Mr. Sean Bonner will be throwned as a Block Captain.

    Good day Captain.

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