Friday, July 30, 2010

When Hate Crime and other Numbers can and Do Lie

Posted By CotoBlogzz 07-30-2010

Last  week,  Attorney General Jerry Brown released what he characterized an "encouraging  2009 annual report showing that hate crimes in California fell by more than 20% last year”, but  warned that “ we are still a long way from ending bigotry and prejudice.  According to the Attorney General, the decline in hate crimes reflects an overall drop on all types of crime in California.  At about the same time, the Anti-Defamation League reported a sharp increase in hate crime  incidents in California last year.  Amanda Susskind, regional director for the organization  said the trend was troubling and and blamed the increase in anti-Semitic incidents, on the confluence of the election of President Obama, the recession and the Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip. 

Is this a case of figures don’t lie, but liars figure?  Or is this a case of only seeing what you want to see?  Or what about another plausible explanation for the diametrically opposed views?  Hold your thoughts:

Last month we reported on the waste of tax-payer money associated with Attorney General Gerry Brown's 2009  Legalized Murder Protection Act Special Report.  In all fairness, the AG’s office is simply doing what the parasitic California Legislature intended when it enacted  Bill 780, the 2002 Reproductive Rights Law Enforcement Act requiring the Attorney General to collect and analyze information on crimes that violate reproductive rights and submit a report to the Legislature (California Penal Code section 13777), where section 13776(a) of the California Penal Code defines an anti-reproductive-rights crime as a crime “committed partly or wholly because the victim is a reproductive health services client, provider, or assistant, or a crime that is partly or wholly intended to intimidate the victim, any other person or entity, or any class of persons.” - view this as the Legalized Murder Protection Act (LMPA).  In this case, there were some 10 or so reported cases

Now, in looking at traffic incidents and crime & vandalism trends in certain communities in Orange County, we have been able to establish predictable  cause-and-effect for traffic incidents using California Highway Patrol statistics.  On the other hand, trending crime and vandalism using Orange County Sheriff Department data is a bit more challenging:  In one case, a couple of years back, we were able to trace major quarter-to-quarter variances on system change-over at the department.  We have been unable to trace the last major discrepancy in the data for the second quarter of 2010.  The point is that unless local law enforcement data collection is driven by a closed loop corrective action system where the data is not only collected locally, but also corrective action is taken and documented immediately, there is no guarantee that as the data flows up to the California Justice Department, it is remotely comparable to what goes on in real life.   View the current system more as a case of GIGO – garbage-in-garbage-out.

Worse, the system as currently implemented, lends itself to corruption and or political manipulation – no unlike the recent case of  deputies in the Los Angeles Central Jail using fake bar codes to check in, and managers being clueless this was going on.

So, the question as to who is right?  California’s AG Jerry Brown, when he says that hate crimes are going down,  or the Anti-Defamation League when it reports hate-crimes are going up?  The answer may be both are right.  Most plausible explanation is that the AG is using un-checked, unreliable data from local law enforcement agencies, whereas the Anti-Defamation League is more provincial and hence has a better handle on the data.  In any case, a definitive answer can only be had when the law enforcement union allows for a closed loop corrective action in all its data gathering and retrieval processes.

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