It Never Crimes in Southern California…


…Or does it? Retired LAPD officer Clark Baker has raised doubts about Los Angeles's official crime rate, supposedly down for a fifth straight year, claiming the official rate is kept down by the simple expedient of police making great efforts to ensure that many official reports on crimes are not filed. reports the accusation, with links, some anecdotes, and an assertion that LAPD Chief William Bratton started this method of keeping crime stats low and him looking good during his New York days. The Village Voice has more on this method of "crime reduction" in the New York context, from 2005.

Link via Sean Bonner at the always fun and informative, which has its own anecdotes to add to the case against LA crime reporting practices.

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  1. If it’s not reported it not a crime. Works for me.

  2. If it’s not reported it not a crime.

    If only they would win the war on drugs the same way.

  3. Well, there’s money to be made in the war on drugs. Put asset forfeiture into other crimes like assault and battery and watch the crime rate skyrocket.

  4. In 1829 Sir Richard Mayne, the first London Metropolitan Police Commissioner, established nine principles for police work. The ninth and ultimate principle was: 9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

    Available at

  5. “It never arraigns in California” would have been funny.

  6. Well, stat fudging or not, I wish we had a time machine so we could go back to 1987 or something, when walking across Central Park at night was pretty much asking for a gruesome death. Where now, I can’t even find anyone who’s had their car broken into after leaving it parked in Alphabet City for 3 days. Alphabet City no longer even has any tang of fear associated with it. It’s all boutiques and overpriced studio apartments. New York crime didnt ust drop…. it virtually evaporated in much of the city over the 1990s. Anywho who grew up in the city in the 1980s (and didnt leave!) has a very hard time explaining to newcomers exactlty how FUBAR the city was for 25-30 years before things suddenly changed in the ’90s. People dont believe you. I’m sure cops fudge lots of stats to make themselves look good (and always take credit for these inexplicable changes in crime levels), but dammit if SOMETHING didnt happen. I meet old cops sometimes and wax reminiscent with them about the bad old days, and they always shrug and go, ‘whoodathunkit?’


  7. I went to law school with an ex-Chicago cop who said that they did the exact same thing. This was back in the early 90s. His understanding was that this great idea had been adopted from the practices of the New York City government.

    Most significant crime reductions that I’ve been around seem to correlate fairly closely to economic factors. Naturally, whoever is in office when the crime rate decreases is sure to never note that little fact.

  8. This method of ‘crime reduction’ was mentioned in one of those cop movies in the 1970s. Movie was about 2 non-corrupt cops, I think it was NYC (could have been Chicago).

    Was in that wave of cop movies after Serpico.

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