Right Twice A Day
I’m not a big fan of the Baltimore Police Department. It’s shameless incompetence and haplessness in the face of a murder rate that puts in in the same league with Detroit and Compton often makes one wonder exactly what they do.
Sometimes, though, a stopped clock it right. Today is probably one of those instances.
The subject is Mayor Dixon’s eyewash crime prevention program GunStat. I say eyewash because there is no evidence that anything produced by GunStat is predictive or proactive. Unlike a lot of crime statistical analyses which are able to predict patterns of behavior, GunStat simply records info about various violators. The difference is between driving the train and calling out the whistlestops.
But the approach has also sparked criticism. Baltimore State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy says the statistics can be misleading because they omit important details about court cases.
The head of the city police union calls GunStat “a waste of time.”
“We have all of these ‘stats,'” said Lt. Paul M. Blair Jr., the union president. “We’re talking ourselves to death. More meetings, more time wasted gathering data. It’s not putting people in jail.”
Bingo. There is not a bit of evidence that the people being studied are being punished.
The problem is that Baltimore juries, oddly enough juries comprised mostly of inner city African Americans who are most at risk from felons using firearms, are reluctant to convict on this account. One supposes it goes to the “too many young black men in prison” meme. Baltimore does not participate in an equivalent of Project Exile which would put these criminals in front of a federal jury to face long mandatory minimum sentences out of state.
Until the Mayor gets serious about prosecuting gun crimes it is hard to see how GunStat is any more than a public relations exercise