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US Cops In Software Flop

The Inquirer (UK) Online Magazine, April 12, 2004

By Inquirer Staff

Data fudge

POLICE IN in Atlanta, New York City, and New Orleans are being saddled with accusations of massaging crime statistics because of new performance measurement software.

According to the Miami Herald, here, a program called "Powertrac" has changed the culture of police departments nationwide, making officers more accountable to the public and more sensitive to how numbers affect their image.

The problem is that careers are being made or broken based on Powertrac numbers.

"Countless capable supervisors in BSO are either leaving or being demoted in droves," one deputy said in an e-mail to the Herald hacks. "Police work should never be treated like a Fortune 500 company. We deal with people at their absolute worst every day and that can't be measured like some company survey."

At least two detectives, have been transferred to road patrol assignments after they failed to get high clearance rates.

Meanwhile district chiefs who posted good crime numbers and showed other signs of strong leadership were rewarded with annual pay bonuses.

Now whistleblowers are coming forward to suggest that to keep the computer happy, crimes were "solved" using faulty confessions.

In New York a similar program to Powertrac, called Compstat made Rudolph Giuliani popular when crime rates were seen to fall. But recently New York cops have been accused of doctoring statistics in an effort to keep pace with Giuliani's record.

Other computer fudging happened in Atlanta, where administrators have admitted that police officers left out 22,000 crimes and in New Orleans one commander forced cops in his district to downgrade crimes so he could win an award for crime reduction.

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Updated: Tuesday, 30-Jun-2009 14:59:41 PDT   ~   Accessed: 5791 times
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