Tom Barrett isn't just Wisconsin's worst jobs mayor, he's apparently the worst on crimes, as well. So bad, in fact, that he's resorted to campaigning on what seem to be cooked crime statistics.
In his February 2012 State of the City address, Barrett cheerfully claimed:
I’m extremely pleased to report that in the last four years, we’ve seen dramatic declines in both violent and property crime. Between 2007 and 2011, total crime decreased 21.1 percent. This number translates into 25,508 fewer crime victims. The hard work of the Milwaukee Police Department is having a profound impact on our neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, the facts don't support Barrett's assertions, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
State and local leaders on Wednesday called for independent audits of the Milwaukee Police Department's crime numbers, citing a Journal Sentinel investigation that found more than 500 cases in which serious assaults were misclassified as lesser offenses.
The Journal Sentinel review discovered an additional 800 cases since 2009 that follow the same pattern but couldn't be verified with available public records. Copies of those incident reports have been sought from police through an open records request.
The Journal Sentinel found enough misreported cases in 2011 alone that violent crime would have increased 1.1% instead of falling 2.3% from the reported 2010 figures, which had their own errors.
Dozens of misclassified assaults were sent to FBI crime reporting experts, who confirmed that they should have been marked as aggravated assaults, which are counted in the city's violent crime rate. Police officials agreed that a sample of assault cases shared by the Journal Sentinel were misreported.
Large numbers of criminal cases misclassified to present a reduction in crime? Not sure that sounds like a simple system error. As the mayor of Milwaukee and labor challenger to Governor Scott Walker in the June 5th recall, Barrett may want to make sure his talking points are more than false statistics.