Friday, July 25, 2008

Allentown: Falling Crime Rate is Misleading

In January, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski boasted a 9% crime drop from 2006 to 2007. Coincidentally, he made this claim right after two separate shootings, which left three people wounded and one person dead. Now he's touting another 5% crime decrease, comparing the first six months of 2007 with 2008. His sunny announcement comes just a few days after a disquieting home invasion, which resulted in a murder. The Morning Call has dutifully reported these figures. Yet for some reason, center city mothers are still afraid to let their children play outside.

How can there be a declining crime rate in a city with so much murder? Who's right, Mayor Ed or moms? Believe it or not, both.

Pawlowski critics knowingly whisper that crime figures are being manipulated, but that's ridiculous. That would require a massive conspiracy between police and mayor, which could never remain secret for long. Mayors and cops hate each other too much.

Pawlowski's right. Allentown's crime rate has fallen over the last 18 months. But sadly, that's no reason for good cheer. Using the same Pennsylvania State Police data relied on by Allentown leaders, the crime rate is just 0.02% below its average over the past eight years. That's no basis for concluding there's light at the end of the tunnel.

At least it's going in the right direction, you might say, and that's true. But those center city moms are still right to trust their own eyes and ears over what Pawlowski tells them from his portable podium.

Here's why. Nobody, from mayor's office to The Morning Call, has bothered to look at the "clearance rate," i.e. the success rate, or rate at which police actually investigate and identify a bad guy. That's gone down, too, and that's very bad news. A falling clearance rate means more criminals are on the street. It means law enforcement is increasingly unable to investigate or prosecute criminal activity.

Allentown's clearance rate this year is 7.5% lower than it was at this time last year. Only 11 of 67 firearms robberies have been solved. Burglaries? Just 2 of 60 reported burglaries are resolved. And so it goes. Police have "cleared," i.e. solved, only 33% of the crime reported so far this year. With a 33% success rate, can anyone claim Allentown cops have taken a bite out of crime? Let's look at the facts since 2000, when state police started collecting data.

2000: 13,205 of 17,445 reported crimes are solved (76% success rate)

2001: 13,035 of 17,277 reported crimes are solved (75% success rate)

2002: 13,385 of 17,297 reported crimes are solved (77% success rate)

2003: 12,587 of 18.025 reported crimes are solved (70% success rate)

2004: 7,194 of 18,304 reported crimes are solved (39% success rate)

2005: 6,487 of 18,366 reported crimes are solved (35% success rate)

2006: 6,123 of 19,072 reported crimes are solved (32% success rate)

2007: 5,822 of 17,383 reported crimes are solved (33% success rate)

From these figures, it's apparent that Allentown's finest had a remarkable record between 2000 and 2003. That suddenly changed in 2004, when its success rate dropped to 39%. Is that when a manpower drain started? I don't know. But when police somehow lose the ability to investigate, criminal presence necessarily increases, especially in "high crime" neighborhoods. This, of course, leads to more violence and undoubtedly explains why Allentown has such a high homicide rate. That's how you can get an increased homicide rate in the face of a falling crime rate.

Mayor Pawlowski has yet to release the details of his new policing program. Preliminary indications, however, are that police will stop sending patrol cars to investigate minor crimes like auto vandalism and theft. That's a mistake, if true. This disastrous policy will result in more unsolved crime, more criminals on the street, more violence and a higher murder rate. No matter how far the crime rate falls, people will feel insecure, and for good reason.

Police need to be doing what they were doing between 2000 and 2003 - solving crime. The best way to ensure that is to hire more of them.

48 comments:

A.J.C. said...

Looks like Allentown needs a Batman.

Does Molovinsky have black leather pants?

Anonymous said...

Yea but they have no backside.

Anonymous said...

No police can not protect us. Stop being a troll for the Republican Party who want to bring in a major
police state.

Be a side for good and individual liberty. Hell already has it's own gate.

Bill said...

Police cannot solve the problem on their own. One clue on what is happening was in the MC story that talked about a person who moved out of the area where the home invasion occurred because criminals spray painted "SNITCH" all over the outside of the house.

We have a policing problem as well as a community problem when we have citizens abandoning their homes out of fear of criminals.

michael molovinsky said...

one office at the morning call certainly cannot be blamed for the crime perception, thats the editorial staff. my letter questioning pawlowski's tactics was held for over 5 days, then printed on monday. monday is the smallest circulation, the paper that day resembles the weekly reader from elementary school days. my six sentence letter, was edited down to four, changing my meaning in regard to the camera's and microphones. in today's paper, friday, a letter appears critical of the negative letters. this alone is against the call's stated policy of not printing letters about letters. today's letter is quoted at the top of the section, and rambles on, apparently not submitted to the editors cross out pen. Apparently, the writer and the editor believe a positive attitude will help protect them from crime. I believe the attitude of the mayor, editor and writer put us in harm's way by denying reality, and taking more appropriate steps to protect us. Michael Molovinsky

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

The police I talk to tell me it is easy to manipulate the city's crime date, it has been done in the past is very likely being done now. They also tell me the information in impossible to audit. Do the math, system with no checks + Ed Pawlowski = the likely use of the very accepted post modern tenet that the truth is what ever we need it to be.
Thanks for shining a light on our city.


Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

You can't have total tyranny without a line of protection.

Scott Armstrong should have to disclose his role as a Republican Committee Member. The Republicans want to introduce a 10,000 "New Police Officers in Pa".


"The Mother of All Bailouts"

7 Minute Video - By Ron Paul

Would she be alive if it weren't for the police?

An Allentown woman said she was attempting to talk a woman off the Albertus Meyers Bridge on Tuesday afternoon, but was stopped by city police and the woman plunged to her death.

Bill Villa said...

The MC opinions editor and agenda framer Mr. Molovinsky refers to is named Glenn. G. Kranzley.

Also, had Lehigh County DA Jim Martin been in attendance at the Lehigh County's Commissioners meeting on April 9 convincing just one of the 5 Republican commissioners to vote "yes" when County Exec Don Cunningham was presenting his Safe Streets initiative, we'd have more police on the streets in Allentown right now. But Martin was in Manhattan the evening of April 9. April 9 was a Wednesday. Wednesday is Broadway Matinee day ... I'm guessing ... was DA Jim Martin tapping his toe to the show tunes of "Annie, Get Your Gun" that evening instead of standing beside Don Cunningham? Whatever the show was, I bet $100.00 that DA Jim Martin was at a Broadway Show that night, opting to expose Allentown to the continued wrath of criminals instead of exposing himself to a disappointed wife who was looking forward to a night out in NYC.

Anonymous said...

This is really good.

Now when are you going to comment on Bethlehem's 11% increase and hold someone accountable for that?

Bill Villa said...

Here's how The Morning Call reported on the April 9 Lehigh County Commissioners meeting in its April 10 coverage ...

"The crime package presented by Cunningham and District Attorney Jim Martin included funding to update records management systems in local police departments, for emergency training centers and for some of the cost of a regional crime data center in partnership with Northampton County."

... reads like DA Jim Martin was at the meeting co-presenting with Don Cunningham, doesn't it?

Martin wasn't there. And The Morning Call had a responsibility to report on that. He was the initiative's co-sponsor. He should have been there. I submitted a Letter to The Editor pointing out that Martin wasn't at the meeting ... I also pointed out the misleading manner in which the meeting was reported on.

Glenn G. Kranzley deemed my letter not relevant enough for publication.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The police I talk to tell me it is easy to manipulate the city's crime date,

Why believe an explanation that requires you to conclude the worst when there's a reasonable explanation that does not require us to assume some deep, dark conspiracy? A falling success rate leads to a less crime being reported. Citizens don't bother bc they know nothing will be done.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Would she be alive if it weren't for the police?

An Allentown woman said she was attempting to talk a woman off the Albertus Meyers Bridge on ...


This post is about Allentown's crime rate, not that poor jumper. Don't blame the police for that or their judgment to get that other woman away.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Now when are you going to comment on Bethlehem's 11% increase and hold someone accountable for that?

Now it's ridiculois to respond to this by saying, "Look at BEthlehem or Easton." The whole point of my post is that you cannot look at a falling crime rate without also looking at the success rate.

If the crime rate drops, but the success rate drops too, that's nothing to brag about.

In Bethlehem, the success rate has been pretty much the same - around 49% - since 2000. There's been no sudden drop. Things have been stable. I plan on posting about the LV's two other cities. Of the three, the one experiencing a sudden drop is Allentow. Of the three, the one with the best success rate initially was Allentown.

Bill Villa said...

" ... it's apparent that Allentown's finest had a remarkable record between 2000 and 2003. That suddenly changed in 2004, when its success rate dropped to 39%. Is that when a manpower drain started? I don't know."-BOH

A success rate drop from 76% ... to 39% ... wow. Great job presenting these eye-opening and most cut to the chase relevant crime numbers I've seen to date, Bern. Now what the heck caused the precipitous drop (the bottom dropped out) and how fast can we get back into that 70%+ success rate zone. Whoever has the right answers should be our next Mayor.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Scott Armstrong should have to disclose his role as a Republican Committee Member. The Republicans want to introduce a 10,000 "New Police Officers in Pa".

Scott is one of those rare commenters who identifies himself, making it possible for readers to know who he is. I would like to think people from both parties are interested in minimizing A-town's crime problem. Are you telling me Dems are opposed to 10,000 more police officers in Pa? I know that's untrue.

A few months ago, when Mayor Sal Panto (Easton) introduced Bill Clinton, one of the things that he stressed was the Clinton surge - a sudden, but all too brief, influx of police officers. I have not spoken to Mayor Panto, but am sure he'd love to see more police in Easton. I'm sure all three mayors would love to fund for police officers and firemen.

I appreciate the healthy disdain of authority, but we need police officers.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying we don't need Police Officers.

I'm not sold we need more.

I would like to see an elected
short term unrelated citizens review board to be put in place.

After all government seems to be the number one employer where people have a living wage these days.

Bernie O'Hare said... 10:05 AM

I appreciate the healthy disdain of authority, but we need police officers.

Mrs. Dottie said...

Nice post BernO. And such an important topic. I made a comment at MM's blog about the unsolved murders. The most recent home-invasion murder is really frightening. And the killer is on the loose. Public safety needs to be a priority. I don't know how any human being can deny this reality.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I would like to see an elected
short term unrelated citizens review board to be put in place.


That's called city council.

Bill Villa said...

Bernie, I know you have a much more open mind about The Morning Call in general and Glenn G. Kranzley specifically than I do, you having received much better treatment from Kranzley and the newspaper than I have over the past few years.

But I'm open to being more open-minded ... so I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on what I posted at 8:36am and 9:02 am.

Do you think our DA Jim Martin was being derelict in his duties on April 9 by missing a Lehigh County's Commissioners Meeting that had fighting crime high on its agenda ...

And do you agree that The Morning Call had a responsibility to report on Martin's absence ... or at least allow a concerned citizen to "clarify" the newspaper's misleading (intentional or otherwise) coverage of the meeting via Letter to The Editor?

These are both very much on topic points, I believe, since your post is on misleading crime figures and dutiful and misleading MC coverage.

Yes, I have personal vendettas against TMC and DA Martin.

I also have excellent points.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bill Villa,

This post is about A-town's falling crime rate and falling success rate. I believe your comments concerning Martin & Kranzley are OT and take us away from those important topics. It needlessly personalizes this matter. But you're a smart guy. Perhaps I'm wrong. I'll answer.

Do you think our DA Jim Martin was being derelict in his duties on April 9 by missing a Lehigh County's Commissioners Meeting that had fighting crime high on its agenda ...

No. DA Martin made the exec aware he would be unavailable that date and told the exec he could either switch the date of the meeting or the DA could change his plans. The exec did not think Martin's presence was necessary. The DA nevertheless sent his first assistant and was present the next time they met. He was also physically present when the program was announced and sent a passionate letter to each commissioner about community policing.

And do you agree that The Morning Call had a responsibility to report on Martin's absence ... or at least allow a concerned citizen to "clarify" the newspaper's misleading (intentional or otherwise) coverage of the meeting via Letter to The Editor?

I believe your clarifying LTE should have been published.

Anonymous said...

That's your job. Never sub contract that portion of your life out. Your sure to be sorry if you do.

Mrs. Dottie said... 10:13 AM

Nice post BernO. And such an important topic. I made a comment at MM's blog about the unsolved murders. The most recent home-invasion murder is really frightening. And the killer is on the loose. Public safety needs to be a priority. I don't know how any human being can deny this reality.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Allentown's dismal success rate for its police department can only be due to two possibilities
(or maybe a bit of each):

1. being incompetent
2. being overwhelmed

Kinda the same way citizens evaluate their school system!

For me, APD's problem is Choice 2.

Here's an idea . . .

let's adopt an entirely new approach!

We'll call it "No Criminal Left Behind."

Bill Villa said...

Thank you for addressing my comments and inquiries, Bernie ...

Bill Villa said...

Correction. "Annie, Get Your Gun" wasn't playing on Broadway on April 9. DA and Mrs. Jim Martin's Wednesday, April 9 Broadway Show choices would have been ...

[ ] A Catered Affair
[ ] A Chorus Line
[ ] August: Osage County
[ ] Avenue Q
[ ] Boeing-Boeing
[ ] Chicago
[ ] Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy
[ ] Grease
[ ] Gypsy
[ ] Hairspray
[ ] In the Heights
[ ] Jersey Boys
[ ] Legally Blonde
[ ] Mamma Mia!
[ ] Mary Poppins
[ ] Monty Python's Spamalot
[ ] Rent
[ ] South Pacific
[ ] Spring Awakening
[ ] The 39 Steps
[ ] The Lion King
[ ] The Little Mermaid
[ ] The Phantom of the Opera
[ ] Thurgood
[ ] Wicked
[ ] Xanadu
[ ] Young Frankenstein

Bernie O'Hare said...

Retired ASD,

Interesting analogy. It looks like we're trying to make do with less teachers, less police and less reporters. It's not working, especially in our urban centers.

Bill Villa said...

All levity aside, the very serious point I'm making is this:

* The APD's crime-solving success rate plummet of 76% to 39% can very likely be attributed, at least in part (and it could be a very large part) to having not enough police officers on the street starting in 2004.

* DA Jim Martin, our county's top law enforcement officer, could have directly impacted getting more police on the street by making attendance at the April 9 Lehigh County Commissioners Meeting (and passionately throwing his full girth behind the Safe Streets Initiative) his top priority for April 9.

* Instead, DA and Mrs. Jim Martin were in Manhattan attending a Broadway Show (and I'm betting $100.00 that's where he was) and the twinkling bright lights of Broadway (and not fighting crime in Lehigh County) were our DA Jim Martin's top priority on April 9.

$$$ WIN EXCITING PRIZE MONEY $$$

$100.00 to the first person to correctly identify the Broadway Show DA and Mrs. Jim Martin attended on April 9, 2008 [and County Exec Cunningham, nothing personal, but we have to disqualify you from participating in this contest because you most likely know the correct answer and knew it prior to April 9 when DA Martin gave you his excuse for not being able to attend the April 9 Commissioners Meeting with you]

Anonymous said...

DA and Mrs. Jim Martin were in Manhattan attending a Broadway Show on April 9.

Can you prove this?

Bill Villa said...

Let me put it this way ... a good lawyer (or a good DA) never asks a question of a witness that he or she doesn't already know the answer to (I won't be losing my $100 bet ;)

bobguzzardi said...

Excellent and informative, both anecdotal and analytic. First class job, Bernie

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks, Bob.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Didn't you say over and over that crime is rising in Allentown and the latest stats would prove it. (after the last stats came out)

Is this your way of saying you were not as biased and mean spirited against Allentown as you made yourself look?

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a short term elected council strictly for this matter!

Blogger Bernie O'Hare said... 10:16 AM

I would like to see an elected
short term unrelated citizens review board to be put in place.

That's called city council.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Didn't you say over and over that crime is rising in Allentown and the latest stats would prove it. (after the last stats came out)

Is this your way of saying you were not as biased and mean spirited against Allentown as you made yourself look?


I never said that. In fact, I have a link to what I dsid say in the main body of my post. My point was that, on average, crime is down only 0.02%. Now, my additional observation is that we have an 18 month downward trend, but the success rate is getting worse.

I would like to see an elected
short term unrelated citizens review board to be put in place.


I never said that, either. In fact, I had some initial reservations aboiut the elections advisorty panel, which was unelected and had no power.

I don't think a separate, elected body is needed to review A-town's crime problem. The people who are elected, however, need to look closely at the data out there.

Bill Leiner Jr. said...

Bernie,

Its clear ... more cops visible, more home ownership, increased organized citizens watch groups ..... less crime, increased public safety. During the Safe Streets situation earlier this year I was amused at the clodhopper who said the reason crime is higher is because of police. More cops, more crime. He was against more cops. His rationale is no cops, no crime ????? Let's hope he is not registered to vote. Have a great weekend Bernie and don't forget to attend the Coplay Town Watch "National Night Out Against Crime" celebration 8/5/08, 6 - 8PM at the American Club of Coplay Pavilion. This is an opportunity for the arm chair police critics to come out for a great night of community spirit. And, get their picture taken with the Coplay Town Watch "Crime Chicken."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Have a great weekend Bernie and don't forget to attend the Coplay Town Watch "National Night Out Against Crime" celebration 8/5/08, 6 - 8PM at the American Club of Coplay Pavilion. This is an opportunity for the arm chair police critics to come out for a great night of community spirit. And, get their picture taken with the Coplay Town Watch "Crime Chicken."

I will be there and will be noting your event next week. Gives me an excuse to visit Coplay, one of my favorite towns.

Anonymous said...

The elected panel would not be for the so called crime problem; one is I don't think there is one.

It's for review against complaints against police and government officials.

It would not have any influence on business on how the government is run or managed. Which sometimes could conflict the decision making process of City Council.

8:29 PM

I never said that, either. In fact, I had some initial reservations aboiut the elections advisorty panel, which was unelected and had no power.

I don't think a separate, elected body is needed to review A-town's crime problem. The people who are elected, however, need to look closely at the data out there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The elected panel would not be for the so called crime problem; one is I don't think there is one.

Then you are hopelessly out of touch with reality. Even Pawlowski has finally acknowledged Allentown's very real crime problem.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

You are right that people have stopped calling the police, but don’t make the mistake of using logic in your attempt to understand what this administration will do in their attempt to appear competent. Those who know tell me they are doing what ever they need to do.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

I live in Allentown and work in center city early morning when most of you are a sleep. As well many Allentownians are asleep to very important issue around them.

Their is not a crime problem. Those who make the claim are politicizing the issue for gain and not for the goodness of the community.

Yes, their tragedy their always will be; however there is goodness equally as well!

Bernie O'Hare said... 9:30 PM

The elected panel would not be for the so called crime problem; one is I don't think there is one.

Then you are hopelessly out of touch with reality. Even Pawlowski has finally acknowledged Allentown's very real crime problem.

Anonymous said...

Their is not a crime problem. Those who make the claim are politicizing the issue for gain and not for the goodness of the community.

Bullshit!

Anonymous said...

That's my view - kiss off!

Anonymous said... 9:15 PM

Their is not a crime problem. Those who make the claim are politicizing the issue for gain and not for the goodness of the community.

Bullshit!

Anonymous said...

There are lots of people in Allentown, all day and night.

Were all not being robbed and murdered.

Get over it! Oh yeah you have some bullshit agenda you want to sell us.

Kiss Off!

Where chasing the boogeyman back to the cave he belongs in! Watch yourself!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Where chasing the boogeyman back to the cave he belongs in! Watch yourself!

The point of my post is that Allentown's success rate, with respecrt to crime, is falling. If you have any intelligent comments to counter that, they are welcome. But when you have to threaten people, you reveal you have no argument.

Anonymous said...

That's funny Anonymous threatens itself!

But when you have to threaten people, you reveal you have no argument.

11:47 AM

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's funny Anonymous threatens itself!

There's nothing funny about anonymous, personal threats. No anonymous was threatening himself - he was threatening me. It was poorly written, but I caught the drift.

Anonymous said...

NEWS FLASH!!!

Bernie hates Allentown and all of the people in it because Bernie hates, and feels threatened by, people that do not look like him.

O'hare will always find and angle to talk down on Allentown from behind his computer because it allows him to feel power over the people of Allentown and their city from the safety of his living room!

At the end of the day, he is no different than the folks on the MCall forum. Look at him celebrate and magnify the challenges of our city. What a joke. I'm not fooled.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Once again, instead of the usual ad hominem from the usual suspects, why not address the question?

How did A-town's crime success rate drop from a high of 77% in 2002, to the current 33% figure? Isn't that indicative of a problem?

Does the state police hate A-town, too?

Anonymous said...

Who cares; I'm glad it did!

Bernie O'Hare said... 1:28 PM

Once again, instead of the usual ad hominem from the usual suspects, why not address the question?

How did A-town's crime success rate drop from a high of 77% in 2002, to the current 33% figure? Isn't that indicative of a problem?

Does the state police hate A-town, too?