By: Courtney Johnson
Violence is hands down one of the top themes of 2015. Violence and crime statistics have hit the news time and time again. In New York City, Mayor DeBlasio and former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly are at odds over city crime statistics. Kelly alleges that DeBlasio is keeping inaccurate crime statistics.
Violence and crime statistics are, however, the hardest to keep completely accurate due to the fact that so much crime goes unreported and different crimes have different definitions to take into consideration.
For example, in order for a shooting to become a mass shooting, a certain number of people, approximately four, need to be shot in the shooting. Otherwise, it’s just a shooting.
Kelly feels that DeBlasio is skewing the definition of certain crimes, such as shootings and fluffing the numbers in order to make it seem like crime is down. He acknowledges that all city staff wants to report that crime is down, but New Yorker’s definitely don’t feel safer.
Kelly raises and excellent point about crime and violence data – it can never be the end all be all for whether or not a city is safe, because these statistics are the hardest to keep accurate. For every headline that claims crime statistics show a decrease in incidents, there are three behind it claiming that the data is “skewed.”
Sadly, due to the back-and-forth involved with crime statistics, they tend to spark a lot of fear/emotion from the general public, especially with the recent mass shootings. There needs to be more of a focus on ensuring that crime statistics aren’t sensationalizing crime and violence in certain areas – one of those areas especially is New York City. An isolated incident that leads to a shooting on a quiet street in Queens could show up in crime reports as having a large increase in shootings if the previous year there were none – situations of this sort should be more widely accounted for/reported on regarding crime statistics.
It is evident that Journalist’s today need to be vigilant when using data and statistics in their stories, but they should be even more so when it comes to crime statistics. Especially when reporting on mass shootings and gun violence.