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Thursday, January 12, 2012

SHOP for Better Crime Statistics (Part 7)


2005, 2006, 2007 CMPD Annual Reports for CMPD are hosted on the web site. 

The first two years that Rodney Monroe was here, 2008 and 2009, are missing.  Why? 
What information is in there that the City doesn’t want accessed?  Citynewswatch has a couple ideas, but it doesn’t matter.  The information belongs to us and should be posted and accessible to everyone that wants to see it.

You can see the numbers on the 2010 report there, but not 2011 yet.  And of course, Rodney Monroe has directed that all access to crime statistics be removed for years.  This makes it easy to manipulate the numbers to whatever you wish to represent without letting anyone check your math or look at the reports.  City Manager Curt Walton, Mayor Foxx, City Council members (unless some of the new ones stand up to correct this) have supported this so far.

Whether supervisors all the way up to Rodney Monroe are telling officers not to make reports, or to downgrade the level or crimes, or if they are instituting programs to keep some crimes completely off the books, the numbers don’t add up and they still won’t release the true crime reports.

It seems as long as our Police Chief and politicians are able to say crime is down in Charlotte, it doesn’t matter if that statement is based in truth.


The full picture is not in yet, but one program that seems to take some significant number of crimes off the books is SHOP: the Shoplifting Offenders Project.

There will be more in upcoming posts about this project and associated statistics, but first consider these numbers taken from the CMPD Annual Report for 2010 of reported crimes:

Larceny makes up 57% of Charlotte's Reported Type I Crime (2010 Statistics)

CMPD has refused to answer several important questions about SHOP.

Sworn officers are required by UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting) Standards to report all crimes known to them.  This SHOP project seems designed to remove a large number of larcenies from the reporting system.  The requirements of this Project that would trigger a police response differ with the law and with UCR reporting standards.  CMPD will provide no response to this.

SHOP was initiated at the 10 locations known to have highest shoplifting numbers:

Walmart 7735 N. Tryon St University City
Kohl’s 9315 N. Tryon St University City
Walmart 3240 Wilkinson Bv Freedom
Southpark 4400 Sharon Rd Providence
Walmart 1830 Galleria Bv Independence
Walmart 3304 Eastway Dr Eastway
Walmart 9820 Callabridge Ct North
Northlake 6801 Northlake Mall North
Belks 7115 Northlake Mall North
Kohl’s 9579 South Blvd Steele Creek

Two locations have since dropped from the program, but the department refuses to say why.  Also, there have been new locations added.  Again, the department refuses to say how many or which locations.

Direct contact with Loss Prevention (LP) personnel and management at various retail locations, both on the program and off, report multiple shoplifting events per day at each of their stores rather than a couple per week as CMPD says.  They also reported that if they do get police involved, they often call a special direct number which is not 311 or 911, so the report is offline and possibly not recorded at all.

Specific data on reported statistics will be presented soon, but the chart above shows why this one project could have such an impact.

If 57% of all the Part I crimes you report for the City are larcenies, and you can find a way to remove a significant portion of larcenies from the books, with that one move alone, that would show a huge drop in the crime rate without any actual drop in crime.

When asked for the total number of larcenies, for the City of Charlotte for a couple of different time periods, the CMPD wouldn’t give that information.  They did say there were 2073 reported cases of shoplifting citywide from 1/1/2010 to 7/31/2010.  Huh?  What kind of strange answer is this?  Seven months…  For sake of comparison, the annual report says there were 3706 shoplifting cases city-wide for the full year 2010.

Other crimes and how they are being reported as well as more about SHOP will be in upcoming posts.

To catch up, please see this previous post which was part 6 about crime stats and Comp Stat, and which has links at the bottom to parts 1 through 5.

The FBI tracks crime using a national standard that attempts to normalize differences among local authorities.  It takes in data as it is reported to them from the local crime agencies. These eight categories that are collected and reported by the FBI are considered the most serious and are referred to as TYPE I crimes. 
Violent crime:
1.    murder and non-negligent manslaughter,
2.    forcible rape,
3.    robbery, and
4.    aggravated assault) and
Property crime
5.    burglary
6.    larceny-theft
7.    motor vehicle theft
8.    arson
Type II crimes which are considered less serious are not counted in TYPE I crime indexes, and so would not make the crime rate appear higher.  If it’s possible to “move” a crime from the category of TYPE I to TYPE II, or not report it at all, that makes the crime rate appear lower.

Crime Statistics reported across the country for 2011 were down with the percentages shown in the FBI chart below.  One option is crime is really falling everywhere, which means any particular credit for crime falling should possibly be offset by percentages across the country.  There would be other considerations for specifics that apply to large cities vs. small towns and more.

Another possibility is the issue that has come up in New York (birthplace of the Comp Stat system used here in Charlotte), Baltimore, Nashville, and Charlotte:  that the crime statistics may not be accurate in other cities, either.  There have been allegations and plenty of proof provided that a combination of career ambition and corruption have proved detrimental to honest and accurate reporting of crime statistics.

Permitting the people in charge and getting promotions to hide the data involved is a bad idea, too.

Comp Stat has been shown to be a very powerful tool that can be exploited for good or corruption.  That’s where good leadership comes into play. 



  1. Wow,fantastic piece of reporting !!

  2. Wow.... Fantastic reporting!

  3. Please keep this up. They are playing games with these numbers.

  4. You are doing great work with this ! Keep up the good work and keep digging.
    They are hiding other type ones by changing and reclassifying .
    Thank goodness for this information!!!
    People will step up!

  5. Keep digging. There is more.

  6. It seems very, very few people actually knew about this "project". And it seems that was intentional, the fewer that knew, the less likely word would get out about it.
    Is this really how you want your police department run?
    Like some Secret Police?
    Where members are afraid to tell the truth?
    Where the Media s threatened with "no access" if they report on unfavorable things going on?
    Where cmpd has no real oversight, internal or external, where rodney controls IA?
    He truly is like some Third World Country Dictator controlling the Free Press, the governing bodies, and all of cmd, bending all of these entities to HIS will.
    Unbelievable in this day, for someone to be so totally unaccountable to anyone.