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O’Malley campaigns to the cops and judges

September 12, 2013

slideThe Criminal Justice Coordinating Council  is the best free lunch you can get on a Wednesday afternoon. Every second Wednesday of the month (except August), an array of prosecutors, city officials, and brass from the police department, jail, and prison systems get together to talk past each other under PowerPoint slides. The cookies are always good.

Yesterday Governor Martin O’Malley interrupted a talk by Dr. Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy Research and an advocate of the public health model of violence prevention.  Webster was working through voluminous peer-reviewed evidence that all current models of policing the streets—with their concentrations on gangs, drug dealers, “hot spots” and community policing, all of them—“had no effect on violent crime.”

“We found exactly the opposite of that,” the governor piped up from his seat near the middle of the enormous conference table in Room 510 at Courthouse East. The Governor insisted that in Baltimore City, serious crime was much reduced as a direct result of rolling up drug corners. “So Baltimore might be an interesting case study.”

It was prelude to O’Malley’s own 16-slide show, the data in which he prefaced by saying the media would ignore. “Between 2003 and 2009 we achieved the greatest reduction in violent crime in America,” the governor said, flashing up his first slide, which depicted state-wide Part 1 crime rates and featured the words “Lowest ever reported” (pictured).

“You’ll never see this in the Baltimore Sun,” O’Malley said. “You’ll never see this as a headline in the City Paper. But we did it.”

Other talking points you can expect to hear in the coming O’Malley For America campaign:

  • We achieved some of the lowest crime rates ever reported since the UCRs [Uniform Crime Reports] were put into place.

  • There are fewer people incarcerated in Maryland now than there were seven years ago.

O’Malley has always insisted that the statistics produced by the Baltimore Police Department during his time as mayor (and beyond) were generally accurate, and that contrary claims by crime victims that police officers were downgrading the severity of incidents or not filing a report at all were very much overblown.

(This despite evidence that the CompStat model O’Malley (and his brother, Peter) copied in New York led to many instances of stat-juking).

But there was one statistic O’Malley noted had “unfortunately” increased statewide since 2011: forcible rape.

This could be in part because the Baltimore City Police Department systematically underreported rapes until the Sun’s Justin Fenton uncovered the deception, sparking reforms.  Those higher rape figures are not “unfortunate.” They are much closer to the truth.

O’Malley’s interest in criminal justice is long-standing and serious. He’s sent the city money to get warrants served faster, and deploys the State Police regularly during major events (he twice mentioned the Baltimore Grand Prix) to make sure as few people as possible are mugged, beaten, shot, etc. while visiting Charm City.

But he punted when Fenton asked about the rape cases that were systematically “unfounded.”  Too bad it’s so hard to have faith in his statistics. In the rape cases, the “unfortunate” figures were the earlier ones—the ones that hid the pain and rage of hundreds of victims and allowed rapists to remain on Baltimore’s streets.


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  • AAPD418

    Seeing how the FBI has always taken a “do it yourself” approach to UCR reporting from the state & local agencies, reports of ‘crimes known to police’ have been the subject of manipulation from the beginning of time. Kudos to Fenton, though, for being persistent.

  • A F James MacArthur

    Great piece Ericson, wish more people would point out the bull politicians like this spew. It’s all good talking points, meanwhile bodies continue to pile up at the morgue. And yes literally pile up, murders are one category, what about all of the “undetermined” deaths. Remember those?

  • trueheart4life

    Someone should remind the Governor that his strategies at the municipal level DO NOT seem to be exportable to the state level and are NOT working, which means they probably won’t work at the federal level either … So why does he continue to talk about irrevelant past performance data??? So governor are you trying to tell us that this data will predict future outcomes for you once in the white house? Is this O’Malley Math??? … It does NOT add up sir.