Debate over the legitimacy of Harman’s crime statistics has become an important issue in the current election. One candidate has called Chief Harman’s crime statistics “wildly inflated” (Kosel, Lookout I:1). A recent review in the Patch concluded that some of the claims were unsubstantiated, and concluded that crime statistics are complex.
This letter is to attempt to explain the issues surrounding the KPPCSD crime statistics. First I will discuss Cathie Kosel’s comments. In the article “Kensington Election Clash Over Crimes Solved” (El Cerrito Patch, Nov.1, 2012), the author Burress takes issue with “assertion by incumbent candidate Cathy Kosel that no crimes were solved in 2011”. The article appears to conclude that Cathie could not substantiate her assertion that Harman had said he had 0 cleared crimes. This appears to be a misunderstanding. Cathie was not incorrect; it is clear in the context of the discussion that Cathie was referring to property crimes. The data she quotes referring to 0 [property] crimes cleared came from the spread sheet in the data package prepared by Harman for that meeting. The article touches on the issue of crime statistics, but simply concludes that the subject is complex. I will describe the crime statistics that Harman has provided; by ignoring standard procedures he has been able to manipulate the statistics for his benefit. Finally I will discuss how Crime Statistics should be compiled. It turns out that there is an easy solution. The FBI provides instructions and tools to insure crime reporting statistics are comparable across the country. These tools are available on-line.
Here is more data about the quote concerning our property crime closure rate which was in the Patch article of Nov. 1. Cathie asked the question concerning our crime clearing rate. She asked about the report that showed 0 property crimes cleared. Harman’s report delivered at that meeting clearly shows that 0 (zero) of the 90 or 72 property crimes (burglary/theft) that occurred in Kensington in 2011 were cleared. http://www.kensingtoncalifornia.org/files/active/0/2012-04-12%20KPPCSD%20AGENDA.pdf (pg 56). In Harman’ose data, it is not clear how many part 1 crimes were cleared. According to the UCR - FBI report 2 or the 4 reported assaults were cleared in 2011. The chief’s records shows 1 assault for a total of 2 crimes(pg 54). I think he meant to put the 2 in the assault column not the total. That would be correct except he has 1 homicide listed which he admits is incorrect; that was in 2010 (pg 55 4/12/12 agenda and pg 30 of the 7/12/2012 agenda). The next page he scratches a 0 besides the assaults and homicide. He is all over the place. I know this doesn't make sense.
The real problem is that a lot of the chief's crime statistics doesn't make sense. Even now (current agenda packet) the chief is misreporting his clearance rates. Here is just one example: The Year to Date 2012 Crime Statistics report shows 1 drug offense with 3 arrests. According to the UCR handbook pg 79, "Reporting agencies must remember that the number of offenses and not the number of persons arrested are counted in the clearances that they record on the Return A… Several crimes may be cleared by the arrest of one person, or the arrest of many persons may clear only one crime.“ The report goes on to explain how to report multiple arrests. Unless a person admitted to 2 other drug offenses he cannot have 3 arrests for 1 offense. Even so the arrests cannot be greater than the offenses. The clearance rates that he has calculated are faulty and his statistics are again inflated.* How many other arrests are misrepresented in his report?*
The FBI has provided tools to insure crime statistics can be compared across the country, called the Uniform Crime Reporting program, or UCR. The UCR is a complex system but the handbook provides clear examples of how to report crime. Kensington does not have complex crimes.. The chief has used these made up statistics to give commendations (pg. 53) and receive large amounts of press (may 2012 outlook) from the biased paper about the performance of the police department for “their” reduction in crime. The police department did not solve one property crime in Kensington in 2011 and that’s what we have most of. This nonsense has to stop. Our police department needs accountability. Elect Cathie Kosel and Jim Hausken.
Thank you, Deanna Collis
*Harman has come up with his own way of classifying crime (pg 27 agenda 7/12/12). Here is a quote from the last meeting: Pg 42 9/13/2012 agenda.
“KPD Crime Statistics update
The changes to the crime statistics sheet this month were primarily to fix problems that arose from the addition of the arson category. As some may have noticed last month everything below a certain point was off by a line. This made it appear there were some drastic changes in certain crimes. For example the numbers for sex crimes were actually the numbers which belonged in the Restraining Order1 Stalking1 Criminal Threat categories. Hopefully this did not alarm anyone too much. Finally, I combined all grand theft and petty theft into the Larceny category in order to more reflect how the Federal UCR system will calculate larceny.
Pg 26 8/11/2012 agenda
…Director Kosel then referenced the August crime statistics on page 43, aud asked if 13 reported crimes is average. GMICOP Harman responded that he didn't know, but that this year crime was up. President Toombs asked about creating a graph with the statistics to better determine trends. Corporal Stegman stated they did not have an expert in crime statistics this past year, so comparison was difficult.”