Truth-tellers, liars and equivocators

Gray's claims about Fenty's crime record missed the mark

August 12, 2010 - 11:10 AM
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Gray pointing wrong stats at Fenty
This is Gray pointing the wrong statistics at Fenty. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

We’ve already evaluated Adrian Fenty’s record on combating crime during his mayoral tenure, and found that although crime was down, the District did not outpace the nation in crime fighting.

In his first attack ad of the campaign, D.C. Council Chairman Vince Gray made a more specific claim.

After selectively editing a Tom Sherwood WRC-TV piece that showed Fenty admitting to an angry mother that “He didn’t do the job he was supposed to,” the ad displays text outlining specific failures of the Fenty administration.

The first claimed failure we’re fact checking is that “Burglary, auto thefts, and sexual assaults [were] all up over the last three years.” (The ad was taken down at the request of WRC a day after the Gray campaign released it.)

Then, the next day at the Ward 4 Democrats’ mayoral straw poll, Gray sang a slightly different tune, saying that burglaries, robberies and assaults are all up in the city.

Are they? Find out after the jump.

The best data to use when comparing crime rates is the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. (This will cause some difficulties later, but it’s the best option right now).

Let’s start with burglaries. According to the UCR, Gray got this wrong. There were 3,835 burglaries in D.C. in 2006, and 3,696 of them in 2009, a decrease of 3.6 percent. The drop for auto thefts was even larger — they fell by almost 28 percent from 7,321 to 5,299.

Oddly, the only increase during that time period was in the lone category Gray didn’t mention in the ad — robberies rose from 3,829 to 3,998, an increase of 4.4 percent.

The final category we need to measure is sexual assault. Getting a handle on sexual assault statistics is difficult since so many of them go unreported. The UCR doesn’t even measure “sexual assault,” instead using a category called “forcible rape,” which excludes any assaults on men. Those crimes fell 18.9 percent from 2006 to 2009 in the District.

There are weaknesses in Fenty’s crime record — property crimes overall have risen under Fenty's watch, according to the UCR data, but Gray chose the wrong crimes. His claims, all in all, are Total Malarkey.

Total Malarkey
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  1. Miss V Miss V

    Veronica D.

    Aug 12, 2010 - 11:28:39 AM

    I don't know that I would consider it total malarkey. It could be an issue of po-ta-to po-tat-o. According to MPD crime stats Larceny/Theft was 15,132 in 2006 and 18,012 in 2009, which is about a 19% increase. It is possible that Gray was including those in the burglary figures.

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  2. Miss V Miss V

    Veronica D.

    Aug 12, 2010 - 11:28:13 AM

    I don't know that I would consider it total malarkey. It could be an issue of po-ta-to po-tat-o. According to MPD crime stats Larceny/Theft was 15,132 in 2006 and 18,012 in 2009, which is about a 19% increase. It is possible that Gray was including those in the burglary figures.

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    • krobillard krobillard

      Kevin Robillard

      Aug 12, 2010 - 04:56:28 PM

      Larceny/Theft and burglary are different crimes. Theft just means something was stolen, while burglary means the person broke in to a house with the intent to commit a felony or steal something. If he was grouping the two together (his campaign never got back to me when I asked about this), it would still be misleading and still earn (I think) a total malarkey.

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