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The proof will be in the crime stats…eventually

Post by Brian O'Neill on Aug. 9, 2010 at 10:09 am |
August 9, 2010 10:09 am

At face value, the premise of comparing crime statistics immediately before and after the arrest of 36 Hilltop Crips seems like a sensible idea because one would think that removing such a large group of alleged hard core gangsters should have an immediate and dramatic impact on crime. Crime reporter Stacey Mulick’s recent article takes a hard look at new crime analysis from Tacoma P.D., questioning the actual effect on street crime in town.

In reality, making such obvious connections in the crime analysis field is frustrating–predicting crime stats is a slippery endeavor in many ways more akin to hedging on the stock market or analyzing the 5-day weather forecast.

The reason, of course, is that humans are involved. Like the stock market and global air currents, human action is unpredictable at the best of times. This may come across as an excuse for any data that doesn’t confirm the theory, which in this case is the idea that removing 36 Hilltop Crips from society was a sound and legal maneuver.

It is not. Because society, and often criminals themselves, can’t predict when or where they will commit their next crime, the briefer the snapshot of time involved in the study, the less accurate the data will be.

All of this was alluded to by Police Chief Don Ramsdell, who also followed up with comments about other anti-gang efforts the department is currently implementing. Any of these efforts, for good or bad, will also skew any resulting crime analysis.

This simply points to the frustrating fact that it is difficult to extract specific information from crime stats. If in fact the subjects Tacoma P.D. arrested are as bad as the information suggests, then the proof will show up.

In time.

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