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It’s called ‘juking the stats’

in The Bay and the 'Burg by
When Disraeli said “there are lies, damn lies and statistics,” he must have been referring to police reports because if there is one set of statistics that are just damn lies, it’s the bullshit the St. Petersburg Police Department feeds us about crime being up or down.
Supposedly, crime is down in St. Petersburg, at least it is according to the statistics offered by Police Chief Chuck Harmon. Even though robberties and burglaries are up, the overall violent crime rate, which also factors in homicides and assaults, is down.
But as Times columnist Howard Troxler writes, “The statement that violent crime is down” for the city in 2008 is true, if you throw everything into the pot, add the numbers a certain way and divide by pi.”
I think Council Member Bill Dudley sums it up better: “I don’t care what the numbers say…We don’t live in numbers. We live in reality. People need to feel safe.”
See, that’s the question: do the residents and visitors of St. Petersburg feel safe? Do they feel safe walking around BayWalk? Do they feel safe walking from one end of downtown to another, through Williams Park or along Central Avenue? Do they feel safe pulling off the interstate and waiting at a stoplight, while avoiding the harassment of several beggars?
The answer is, unequivocally, ‘No.’
Just look at this post on the Times‘ This Just In blog: “Maybe people are just really psyched for the Super Bowl. Whatever the cause, Friday night was a wild one in Pinellas County, as the jail bookings this morning attest.”
Who knows how those five crimes will end up being reported. That’s because there’s a phenomenon in local government called “juking the stats.” Anyone familiar with the show The Wire knows exactly what I am talking about, but in case you missed The Best Show on Television, here’s how it goes: Making robberies into larcenies, making rapes disappear. You juke the stats and majors become colonels.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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