This Letter to the Editor was published by the LA Times on August 13, 2014.
The Times once again is to be congratulated for uncovering a de facto LAPD cover-up of crime statistics in the City. The Times' reporters had to sift through 1,200 serious violent crimes to prove the pattern. Among many others, I have been pressing the City and Department for a decade to recognize the conflict of interest when the LAPD is simultaneously in charge making arrests and defining whether they are serious or minor. That gives power to the Department to an effect, manipulate crime data to promote either the image that violent crime is falling or rising. These barometers of public safety are so important to public safety that they should be calculated in a manner which is beyond public question. We should not be manipulated either by an exaggerated politics of fear or by sunny reassurances that our crime rates are falling due to successful city and police measures.
The city should end the conflict of interest and establish an independent office capable of the scrupulous collection of reliable data. A consensus should be reached on often-vague terminology, and professional social scientists should be charged with reporting the data, perhaps through the Inspector General's office.
A city where officials have touted computerized data as the foundation of law enforcement deployments; it cannot afford even the image of manipulating the numbers.