Why Chicago's Crime Rates Plummeted

Chicago Magazine alleges plot to fudge statistics

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 14, 2014 6:35 PM CDT

(Newser) – Chicago politicians are trumpeting last year's unprecedented drop in crime rates, but on second glance it may be a case of lies, damned lies, and statistics, Chicago Magazine reports. Insiders at City Hall and the police department say that when crime soared in 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel felt the pressure, and told Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy to fix the problem or polish up his resume. Miraculously, crime rates dropped (some by an amazing 56%) as felonies were downgraded to minor offenses and homicides were reclassified as "noncriminal deaths." Among the more shocking stories:

  • Michelle Manalansan, 29, was found dead inside an air mattress. Her death certificate said it was murder, but lacking a suspect, police refused to call it a homicide.
  • Tiara Groves, 20, was found in a warehouse, gagged and naked. Ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, her death was reclassified a "noncriminal death" by police.
  • Millicent Brown-Johnson, 28, and her son, Jovan Perkins, 8, died of smoke inhalation in a fire deemed arson, but police refused to investigate them as homicides.
Chicago Magazine's unnamed sources call this a "travesty" and a "numbers game," while the police department is using phrases like "fewest murders since 1965" and "lowest overall crime rate since 1972." The city's inspector general has jumped into the fray with an audit of 2012 crime rates, finding a modest 3.1% error rate by police, Chicago Tonight reports. Then there are people like Austin Perkins, whose son Jovan died in the fire: "I just don’t understand how police can categorize it the way they are categorizing it," he says. "I just want answers. I just want justice." Click for the full article.

  (Shutterstock)
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