Like A Seesaw: Baltimore Crime Stats Confusion


Crime reporter Peter Hermann comments in the Baltimore Sun about the longstanding tradition of a police department’s tendency to fiddle with crime statistics, in Baltimore and elsewhere. He writes, “Altering, fudging, manipulating and sometimes even ignoring crime has been a part of police work here and around the country since cops started counting and politicians started using the numbers to climb into office or to sabotage opponents.”

Baltimore crime numbers are again being called into question. Critics say that police count multiple shooting victims at one scene as one shooting, that the medical examiner is hiding murder victims by ruling the cause of death “undetermined” in an inordinate number of cases and that authorities covered up a serial killer in Park Heights a few years ago. Police talk about a decrease, but residents say crime is out of control. Who is right? When it comes to crime stats, one former cop told Hermann, “The pen is mightier than the patrol car.”

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