EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

March 10, 2013

Patrolmen challenge mayor's statement that crime is down

Fiorentini: The statistics don't lie

(Continued)

The city’s 2012 crime levels are less encouraging when compared to 2011, however. In fact, murders actually increased from one in 2011 to two last year; there were the same number of assaults — 294 — in 2011 and 2012; and reported instances of forcible rape dropped by only one to 15. When 2012 is compared only to 2011, major crime is down only a few points overall.

In the seven categories, there were 2,149 reported crimes in 2010; 1,947 in 2011; and 1,878 last year. The mayor provided the crime report to the patrolman’s union and The Eagle Tribune late last week after each requested it.

As they have in the past, the patrolmen cast doubt on statistics used to track crime levels in the city. The officers said the FBI report is “limited to specific categories and lacks the intimate knowledge of the community and the police department that supplies the information.”

The union’s release includes information from the FBI that warns against using Uniform Crime Report data to form a full picture of crime in a community. The advisory explains that a department’s resources, including its budget and its ratio of police officers to residents, are key parts of the crime picture not accounted for in the raw statistics. Indeed, Haverhill has one of the worst officer-to-resident ratios in the region, according to the union and other regional studies. There are approximately 90 officers — including 65 patrolmen and detectives — to police Haverhill’s roughly 61,000 residents and 35 square miles.

The FBI report also does not track so-called victimless crimes such as prostitution and drug dealing, and it only tracks reported crimes. Moreover, only male-against-female rapes are counted in the report in tracking rapes and sexual assaults, and only the most severe crime is reported in an instance where multiple offenses have been committed.

In responding to the union’s release, Fiorentini said he stands by his comments that crime is down.

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