Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fake St. Louis; Our View; How to Drive Crime Stats Down: Create a Phony City

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fake St. Louis; Our View; How to Drive Crime Stats Down: Create a Phony City

Article excerpt

After years of being outraged every time St. Louis is blasted in some national forum for its high crime rate, the city's leaders have devised a solution:

Create a Potemkin city and generate Potemkin crime statistics that make the crime rates look a little better. For those whose Russian history is rusty, the reference is to a legendary fake city designed to fool Catherine the Great in 1787.

St. Louis city and county leaders are behind this plan to put the needle the city's crime statistics into a haystack the combined populations of the city and parts of the county.

Will this statistical shell game work?

The thinking goes that if you add the county's 524 square miles to the city's 61 square miles, you spread out the crime data and the region accounts for a lesser blip than the city does alone in national crime statistics.

Except that's not accurate, either. Officials say the change would make St. Louis the eighth-most dangerous city among those with populations between 500,000 and 999,999. That's still in the top 10, but better than the No. 2 ranking among all cities in the last survey.

It's true that the current way of reporting crime statistics puts the city at a disadvantage compared with less-fractured municipalities. But the population of the new Fake St. Louis would be phony. It would be derived by combining the city's 318,667 residents with that portion of the county's residents who live in areas patrolled by the St. Louis County Police Department.

That's about 40 percent of the county, with 391,243 residents, and includes unincorporated areas and cities that contract with the county for police services instead of running their own police departments.

Crimes are counted by police agency. Stats from the dozens of municipal police departments wouldn't be included because they are not among those gathered by the FBI.

This plan got some traction on Wednesday at Attorney General Chris Koster's Urban Crime Summit. …

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