Sunday, September 08, 2013

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Sheds Image as Murder Capital as Homicide Tally Drops

Eye popping headline; faulty data and conclusions
Utah Murder Capital? NOT
Uplifting Tim Gurrister "puff piece" in yesterday's Standard-Examiner, gleefully announcing that Ogden City "no longer" "enjoys" special Utah eminence in the field of intentional homicide:
Mr. Gurrister has done some fancy research, it seems, gleaning theories from all the Ogden City Leading Lights, each of whom offers his own explanation for Ogden's precipitous fall from "felonious grace":
  1. Ogden City law enforcement authorities: a) increased manpower and funding; b) the Trece gang injunction.
  2. Veteran Ogden defense attorney Bernie Allen: a) Roe v. Wade; b) Urban renewal.
Thanks to Ogden City watchdog Dan Schroeder, however, we'll cut to the chase. Via yesterday's email, the Good Professor puts this story in context. The problem with Mr. Gurrister's story? Faulty data:
According to the official FBI tally, Ogden had only six murders in 1987, not 23. The online data go back only to 1985, but six was a typical number for the "murderous" late 1980s. Ogden had more than four murders in 2002 and 2005, and the only year since 1985 when Ogden had more murders than Salt Lake City (four vs. three) was actually 2009.

The minor discrepancies between the FBI data and the sources used for this article are probably due to inconsistencies in the classification of some homicides. (For one thing, the FBI data include "non negligent manslaughter".) The explanation for the discrepancy in 1987 must lie elsewhere, but I'm inclined to trust the FBI data over an anecdote attributed to Mayor Goff.

The bottom line is that the murder rate has steadily declined in both Ogden and Salt Lake City in recent years. Statistically, the decline in Ogden hasn't been any faster than that in Salt Lake. The national murder rate has also been declining over this time period. There's no statistical basis for attributing the decline to the gang injunction, or to the number of police officers, or even to urban renewal.
Dan also provides this illuminating graphic, gleaned from official FBI statistics, which illustrates that Ogden City has never been, at least within the time frames mentioned, "Utah's Murder Capital":

Eye-popping headline? Yes.

Reliable conclusions and data? No.

Yep. It's that old "Garbage in; garbage out thing," folks:

Comments, anyone? Ferris?


smaatguy said...

well goooooollly....there are a few more peeps in SLC aren't
there?....and around 2000 according to the graph we were nearly equal to
SLC...what's the per capita rate????

Biker Babe said...

"scuse the d'oh! question: what does roe v. wade got to with this Oz City puff piece and Oz being '#murdercapital'

rudizink said...

You're 'sposed to open the link, BB:
Legalized abortion and crime effect

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