Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Standard-Examiner: FBI says Ogden Crime Stats Down -- UPDATED

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Regular as clock work, and on the eve of a pivotal Ogden City municipal election, wherein control of the majority of Ogden City Council seats is up for grabs, the Standard-Examiner comes through with another Godfrey administration tout piece, announcing once again that Boss Godfrey has his hands firmly placed on all the right levers and dials, making Ogden City one of the most crime-free towns in the Beehive State. Most of this stuff comes straight out of the mouth of Boss Godfrey of course, so as all WCF readers know, it has to be all true:
FBI says Ogden crime stats down
Godfrey of course denies that the timing of this story has anything at all to do with Tuesday's election, since he's not personally running for re-election this time around. We'll assume of course that his lips were moving when he uttered this denial, and will thus draw all reasonable inferences therefrom.

Just to kick-start the morning discussion, we'll shamelessly incorporate Dan S.' most cogent comment from the above SE story's comment section, rather than spend another hour or two trying to piece together our own infallible analysis:
We should pay heed to Mark Twain and the many others who have pointed out the deceptive use of statistics. A year ago I carefully analyzed Ogden's crime statistics and reported the results here:

Ogden Crime Statistics... Without the Godfrey Distortions

There are just too many ways to present the data. Which categories of crimes do you include? Do you weight all crimes equally or does a murder count more than a simple assault? Do you report total crimes, or crimes per person? If the latter, what population data do you use? How far back in time do you go when reporting long-term trends?
In recent years, the Standard-Examiner has left all of these decisions to the politicians.
Getting a quote from a skeptical expert is better than nothing, but a true journalist would do an independent analysis of the data (or hire an independent expert to do such an analysis).
The Standard-Examiner doesn't even seem to notice when the statistics in one article contradict the statistics in an earlier article. In July 2008 the S-E published a similar crime-trend graph with different numbers: 72 (not 77) in 2000, and 77 (not 67) in 2006, for instance. (I think the discrepancy for 2000 is from using different population data, while the discrepancy for 2006 is because the city reported a higher number of crimes and later revised the number downward.) Here's a link to the earlier graph:

More Pro-Godfrey Spin from the Standard-Examiner

During his 2007 campaign, Godfrey claimed that Ogden's crime rate had dropped 23% between 1999 and 2006. The graph in this article shows a 16% drop between those years, while the July 2008 graph shows only a 4% drop. Godfrey also claimed there had been a 43% drop in the sub-category of violent crimes over the same time period, but the officially available statistics show little or no change in the violent crime rate.
According to the FBI web site, "the FBI discourages data users from ranking agencies [e.g., cities] and using the data as a measure of law enforcement effectiveness."

Uniform Crime Reports
A Word About UCR Data
(Readers who are seriously interested in the topic of Ogden crime statistics from a historic perspective also ought to take a gander at these articles too.)

So what about it gentle readers? Has Boss Godfrey at last embraced his primary and fundamental mayoral role as a zealot for public safety? Is Godfrey the Crime Fighter truly taking a bite out of crime? Or is it the same old story all over again, with Godfrey once again fiddling with the numbers?

Have at it, O Gentle Ones.

Update 10/28/09 10:02 a.m.: Godfrey's Mormon friends at KSL News are covering this story too, and savvy KSL viewers are all taking Godfrey's "eminations" with a grain of salt... shall we say?

Too funny.


lionel said...

The Ogden Mayor and Chief of Police are notorious for making up crime statistic numbers to make themselves look good. They do this at least every election eve. The mayor has a slate of candidates he is running for the city council and he is grand standing with these bogus numbers to benefit his candidates.

The reality is that Ogden is crime infested and the police force is terrible understaffed, overworked and unappreciated by both the Mayor and his Chief. The management of the police force seriously under reports the crimes occurring and as a consequence the FBI reports make the town look safe. It is not safe and will not be until there is a new mayor and chief who build the OPD back up to strength, pay them well and most of all show them some respect and appreciation.

Do not believe any numbers or statistics that come from these two. They are the biggest criminals of all in Ogden.

Rafiki said...

I read a related story on KSL about crime being down in Ogden. Then two stories down was the headline "house shot up twice in one night" or something like that. Really too bad but very funny.

Anonymous said...

Crime indicators rise and fall, nationwide trends come and go, police deal daily with shrinking budgets and an increasing lawless society.
The thin blue line, baby.

The mayor, for all his preening and press releases, has little effect on the 3rd-time-this-week domestic-violence, behind the curtains and a scant block away.

It is the cops that deal with this, and they deserve to have an immediate pay raise to reflect the job they perform daily, and a mandate to go get the bad guys dirty harry style; a force that is ready for all that Ogden can throw. And you know Ogden.

Samantha said...

Candidate Susan Van Hooser failed to file her financial disclosure by the deadline 7 days prior to the election. She should be disqualified from running. On another vein David Phipps also failed to report. . . what say you? Should both be disqualified or neither?

Just Sam Nonsense said...


Standard-Examiner and my computer says otherwise. Ms. Van Hooser's financials are up on the city website. Good try.

Crime fighter said...

Let's see now: Godfrey is so powerful he is able to tweak the FBI statistics, and have them report erroniously, just so he and Greiner (whom I'm no big fan of) can look good?

Or am I reading this wrong?

If that's the case, it's no mystery why you folk can't seem to run him out of office. Might as well throw in the towel. You can even forget this election, as Godfrey seems to get his way regardless of how many anti-Godfrey council members sit in the hallowed chairs.

ozboy said...

Crime fighter

You are putting a spin on this. Are you trying to mislead us?

Mr. Godfrey and the Chief are not "tweaking" the FBI numbers, they are just lying to the feds about the true numbers here in Ogden. The FBI doesn't check the numbers submitted to them - they just trust the city's to be truthful. It is all voluntary on the city's part anyway, and there are a lot of city officials across the country who lie on these reports just like Godfrey and Greiner do. Most people in law enforcement know this and the numbers don't hold much weight with them anyway. It is understood these numbers are highly gamed by crooked politicians for political purposes.

Crime fighter said...

I agree, Ozboy.

By the way, it wasn't spin my friend. I meant what I said when I asked, in my second paragraph, "Or am I reading this wrong?"

Tom said...

Leave it up to these snot nose spoiled brats that havent gotten thier way to sit in here and whine and cry about numbers this numbers that. Get off your hind end and do something about it. Dont sit in here and push off that you havent fudged some numbers on your tax forms or somewhere else for your benifit. Do you have any clue what the overall effect is in the numbers? Ill guess not. But they do have some bearing on what fudning the city will get to help afford the wages that the officers that actualy fight our crime deserve.

Anonymous said...

If a sheriffs department actually went out and busted everyone for any single crime one can name, say, methamphetamine, for instance, it would show up on the national map as, "Ogden is the Meth Capital of the USA. And similarly for any crime you can name.

Police detectives in all police forces nationally look the other way on myriad crimes, mostly the victimless ones, as to do otherwise ruins the chamber of commerce "relocate to..." pitch.

Its a fact. Look it up. Reported crime stats, 'cept the big three felonies, are a joke.

Ogden is not a crime capital.

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