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Murder Stats? What Murder Stats?

June 22, 2012

Former Assistant States Attorney Page Croyder has added some insight to the question of the city’s murder clearance rate–and State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein’s role in that–in a June 20 post on her own blog.

We pointed to David Simon’s epic blog post on the subject here, adding links to the actual work the Sun did on the matter, which Simon calls inadequate. Simon’s well-detailed post is here. Read it if you haven’t.

Simon’s insight is that a policy change instituted last year, in which only prosecutors can charge murder cases, has the effect of reducing the police department’s  murder clearance rate while improving the win ratio for Bernstein’s office, which picks only the strongest cases to prosecute. Simon says Bernstein’s statistics end up looking better than they should.

Croyder adds this twist:

. . . what statistics?  I went to a meeting of the Baltimore Criminal Justice Coordinating Council earlier this year at which Bernstein gave his “annual” report.  (His predecessor gave a quarterly report.)  Bernstein talked completely in generalities, with not a single benchmark with which to measure his performance.
I asked for a follow-up meeting, and learned from him that it was a “little too early” to report out on the accomplishments of his new violence unit (that was nearly a year old) and that he had little handle on other statistics, sources of statistics, or plans to publish statistics.  During his campaign he said he would post his conviction rates on his website, but 18 months into his tenure they have yet to appear.  Where’s the transparency?
So far there’s no sign that Bernstein has even noticed. If he says anything, we’ll update.

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