September 21, 2016 2:39 am ET
Numbers don’t lie, unlike those who cover up the numbers
Source: Chief Says “Drats” to Stats
Photo credit/BuzzFeed News
A great deal of credit goes to those journalists who pull back the curtains and reveal the underbelly of politics.
Remember this quote from the movie Spotlight:
“Journalists hold those in power accountable.”
A recent exclusive breaking article released by BuzzFeed News, reported some disturbing crime stats regarding one of the most egregious of crimes: RAPE.
Baltimore County was not targeted by the two reporters—Alex Cambell and Katie Baker; instead, the story focused on 11 police departments with high rates of unfounded cases.
The 11 departments studied were spread across the country. The reporters focused on departments that on average reported 33% of rapes unfounded.
The highest jurisdiction found was Oxnard, CA at a rate of 54% and the lowest jurisdiction was Huntsville, AL at 25%.
The numbers in Baltimore County were higher than the national average at 34%.
I took a look at the local news coverage and found, in my humble opinion, what was the detailed analysis provided by WBAL Radio’s C-4 show, during which Bryan Sears of The Daily Record grilled Chief Jim Johnston.
From the get go, both C-4 and Sears paint a picture that reveals what I believe is the motive behind this whole issue: keeping the crime stats low.
How low? This response from Chief Johnson may shed some light on that issue: “I strongly feel that the BuzzFeed allegations are simply false,” Johnson told C4 and Sears.
Now, truth be told, Johnson’s logic may carry some weight; however, we’re talking 34% of unfounded rapes, not 3% or even 10%. Johnson’s comment was a bit of a stretch.
Johnson gave the same lame answer to ABC Channel News.
Even the Washington Post threw its two cents into the ring with this quote, “We take every victim at her word,” a spokeswoman for Baltimore County police told BuzzFeed, but “saying no is not enough to support a rape charge.” The state’s rape law requires not only a lack of consent but also “force or the threat of force.”
Chief Johnson vowed he would take another look and review this matter, but this response posted on the county’s website paints a different perspective on this volatile issue:
Chief Johnson noted that, as the article states, Baltimore County was the only jurisdiction (among many across the country contacted by BuzzFeed for this article) that provided records to BuzzFeed’s reporters. “We have nothing to hide,” Johnson said. “While we dispute many of BuzzFeed’s assertions, we intend to use this article as an opportunity to see if our procedures can be refined and improved.”
If you look at the website, right under the above story, the site followed up with another rape case from July that was investigated.
The dates when both articles appeared are suspicious. The response to the BF story was posted on 9/9/2016, and the other rape article was posted on 7/15/2016.
I guess someone felt that would reassure the public that rape crimes are being investigated in the county.
But here are a couple of points I wish to make.
First, we know that—based on the percentages—the chief’s persistent claim that citizens are as safe today as they were back in the mid 1970s is a bit of a stretch.
A while back, after repeatedly hearing the story about how crime was down in the county, I filed a PIA to take a look at the calls for service. One would figure that more calls for service increase the odds of more crime.
I was advised in numerous emails that the stats regarding 2013 would be released on 6/1/2014.
How is that possible when each month a community relations officer holds a monthly crime report for those meetings?
A former police administrator told me the delay was because the powers that be are afraid of releasing the facts.
That, in fact, is the whole crux of the BuzzFeed story.
This comment from the administration in 2014 reveals a possible motivation for the recent crime stat issues.
“One homicide is one crime too many,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “Still, we are pleased that by all standards our county is safer than it has ever been.”
That statement may shed some light on the motive behind the fear of revealing the truth about the reality of crime in Baltimore County.
Even the Sun dropped the ball big time on this one.
Remember the similar scandal in Baltimore City that drew a mountain of coverage by the Sun with at least 8 articles written on the topic?
Regarding the county situation, I found one small article in the Sun. In that story, we see this quote from Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond:
Baltimore County Council Chairwoman Vicki Almond said she’s anxious to get a full report from the chief on the matter.
“As a woman, as a mother of two daughters and the grandmother of four granddaughters, it is very disturbing and very concerning,” said Almond, a Reisterstown Democrat.
Ms. Almond should read the following, taken from the County Charter, instead of approving an $8 million loan to an LLC that employees 45 people.
· Sec. 1008. – Subpoena power.
The county council, the county executive, the county administrative officer, the personnel and salary advisory board, the county board of appeals, the county auditor and such other officers or agencies of the county as may be so empowered by legislative act of the county council or otherwise by law shall have the power to administer oaths, to compel the attendance of witnesses and to require the production of records and other materials in connection with any investigation, inquiry or hearing authorized by this Charter or by law.
The answers to the 34% issue are there, but if only someone has the courage to do the job.
In order for that to happen, Mr. Kamenetz might need to re-read his own words form this Sun quote:
“We also have a strong relationship with the community,” he said. “That really makes a difference here in Baltimore County.”
I’m glad that something is making a difference, because the “blind blue line” isn’t cutting it…