City Reporting a ‘Mitchell Miracle’ in Crime Drop [OPINION]
After being forwarded the letter from New Bedford Public Information Officer Jonathan Carvalho to WBSM operations manager Michael Rock regarding my article, I decided to look a little closer to the crime statistics of New Bedford.
Mr. Carvalho provided Rock with the 2017 FBI Uniform Crime Reporting statistics link and pointed out that SafeHome.org's report (which left the City of New Bedford off the safest Mass city's list) claimed to use the 2015 information.
As I investigated this, one clue as to how they were left off may be found on the National Council For Home Safety And Security website, which also gauges municipal safety. In their reports, they state, "we eliminated any cities that failed to submit a complete crime report to the FBI."
Apparently, the mayor's office is questioning the validity of the SafeHome.org report which did not find New Bedford in the Top 25 safest cities in Massachusetts. They also rightfully pointed out my conflating Brockton's 2015 VC (Violent Crime) stat with 2017.
Before we get deeper into this, let me first share with you the record of violent crimes by year with our region's most problematic and similar sized cities.
Violent Crime Total By Year According To The FBI Uniformed Crime Reporting (UCR) Database
---------------------------------------New Bedford--------------Brockton--------------Fall River-------
2012 1,030 1,088 954
2013 1,039 1,162 944
2014 1,199 992 1,036
2015 ???? 942 1,012
2016 (Table 6) 819 1,029 966
2017 (Last Avail) 663 917 880
So in John Mitchell's first term, he saw a steady violent crime statistic. In his second term in 2014, the city saw a 16 percent increase in crime since his first day in office. In 2015, the following year, the FBI was unable to provide the annual crime statistics from New Bedford.
I've requested an explanation from the FBI as well as the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, who hands the state's individual municipal statistics to the FBI. What I did learn later in my effort, came from that State office at 1 Ashburton Place in Boston. They confirmed what I suspected: New Bedford failed to report their violent crimes statistics in the established time to do so in 2015. *An election year for the Mayor's Office.
In 2016, the New Bedford violent crimes record showed a 31 percent plummet, followed by another steep drop the following year as 2017 showed another 19 percent drop.
An interesting trend that ought to raise eyebrows. After Mayor Mitchell's first three years saw an increase of 16 percent, his City went off the statistical grid for some reason in 2015 and when New Bedford resurfaced, they roared back with astounding success, reporting a 44.7 percent drop in violent crime.
Hell, even rapists revered New Bedford, going from 86 in 2014 to 31 in 2016 for a 63 percent nosedive. Mitchell crime policies seemed to include an ingenious EDS for sexual offenders.
This would make Rudy Giuliani blush. The former NYC mayor did a book tour and enjoyed lucrative paid lecture fees for less dramatic results in his city.
Still, the numbers are just a little too impressive for me. We know not all crimes are reported in orthodox fashion in New Bedford, for one. Take former New Bedford Public School maintenance supervisor, Tony Braz; warrant issued, drugs and money found in raid—but no arrest.
Police raided his home with a warrant. They confiscated almost 400 Oxycodone pills, $38,326 in cash, 74 pills of Alprazolam, oh and a bag of cocaine was taken off of a younger city woman by police. Braz wasn't arrested. He was left to sleep in his own bed. He was handed a subpoena to appear in court weeks later. The event happened on January 2.
I can't remember how many times New Bedford police officers have been telling us both on and off the air how many things go unreported based on direct orders from "the top."
One of my NBPD confidential sources explains that they have changed the reporting format to make the city "appear safer." For example, he told me that actual robberies were now being submitted to the FBI as "larcenies."
Robbery is unlawfully taking someone else's belongings by force or with the threat of force, whereas larceny implies taking someone else's belongings without the rightful owner being aware of the loss of property. In the SafeHome's methodology, a robbery weighs 90 percent on the scale and larceny only 80 percent.
Crime Score =
X1A1 + X2A2 + X3A3 + X4A4 + X5A5 + X6A6 + X7A7 + …
Y1B1 + Y2B2 + Y3B3 + …
- Z1C1 – Z2C2 + Z3C3 + Z4C4 – Z5C5 – Z6C6
|X7||A7||Vehicle Theft Rate||62%|
|Y1||B1||Population : Officer||50%|
|Y2||B2||Violent Crime % Change||50%|
|Y3||B3||Property Crime % Change||40%|
|Z2||C2||% Pop Change||10%|
|Z3||C3||% Youth Population (15-24)||5%|
My source within the NBPD has been on the force longer than 10 years and said, "In the years I've been here, the city average for arrest and offense reports has always been the same, I'd say within 5-7 percent plus or minus difference from year to year."
"I can also tell you that it is common knowledge in the department that the Family Services Unit who handles all sexual assaults in the city are just overwhelmed," my source said. "They just don't have enough people certified and the caseloads are stacked. I can't imagine how the rape statistics can claim to have dropped like that if what you're saying is accurate, more than 60 percent drop."
He continued, "What I would say is, 'How do they explain an increase volume of calls for police service, where we had 140,000+ calls, yet crime decreases?'"
Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@