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McCarthy Defends Police Department's Handling Of Crime Stats

By Chuck Sudo in News on Aug 1, 2014 7:30PM

Photo credit: Rotating Frame

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy defended his department’s reporting of crime statistics during a public hearing on the matter Friday. The City Council Public Safety Commission convened the meeting after an audit by the Chicago Inspector General's office of CPD’s assault-related crimes and a two-part expose in Chicago magazine raising questions regarding whether the Police Department was tinkering with crime stats to give politicians and the public the perception that crime was declining across the city.

McCarthy insisted the Police Department’s reporting of crime statistics since he became Superintendent three years ago has been transparent, despite questions about how major crime rates fell by an average rate of 19 percent annually from 2010 through last year, compared to an average of 4 percent from 2004 through 2009. McCarthy re-stated his party line at the hearing that the 2014 homicide rate is the lowest in the city in 50 years.

Then he laid some of the blame on the media, singling out the Chicago magazine piece, in particular.

"In the world of social media where everything's getting reported out, in a world of real-time reporting without context, people (become) bombarded with it," he said. "So I'm willing to discuss anything that anybody can think of that's going to help us with the perception issue to match the reality of what's been happening. Because it's really simple, you can't hide bodies."

The Chicago expose and IG audit called into question how the Police Department classifies some obvious homicides as lower level death investigations; how dozens of other major crimes including criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery, arson, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts were downgraded to lesser crimes; and revealed a Police Department brass obsessed with lowering those numbers to give the impression to politicians at City Hall and the general public that order was being restored.