Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bob Corker Lies To His Mother; Records Show He Did Not Cut Crime

Looks like we have caught Bob in yet another lie.

In his new television ad, Bob Corker says: “When I was mayor of Chattanooga, we cut violent crime by 50 percent. We figured out who the bad guys were, and we sent them away.” On the screen it says, “Bob Cut Violent Crime 50%.”

The records of the FBI, the TBI, and even the Chattanooga Police Department make one thing clear: Bob Corker is not telling the truth.

These are the facts regarding crime, Chattanooga, and Bob Corker:
  • Violent crime did not decline in Chattanooga during Bob Corker’s term as mayor by 50 percent, according to the FBI, the TBI, and the records of the Chattanooga Police Department.
  • The FBI and the TBI report that violent crime, drug crimes, and sex crimes increased in Chattanooga during Mayor Corker’s last full year in office.
  • Crime in Chattanooga rose in 2004 after Bob Corker fired police Chief Jimmie Dotson, failed to get his choice as police chief confirmed by City Council, and eventually installed Chief Steve Parks.
  • Violent crime in Chattanooga is 2.11 times the national average. Chattanooga under Bob Corker was twice as violent as the average American community.1
  • Mayor Corker held a news conference on January 5, 2005, in which he announced violent crime had fallen by 51 percent in 2004, as compared to 2001. Public records indicate senior Corker administration officials knew the claim was based on inaccurate data so incomplete that one police analyst called it “garbage.”
  • The Corker administration sought to control and manipulate crime data disseminated by the Police Department, at one point criticizing the Chief of Police in writing for telling the truth about rising crime in 2001.
  • In 2004, the U.S. Justice Department called Chattanooga “one of the hottest zones of criminal activity” in the country and dispatched ATF agents to reduce the crime rate. The ATF agents sent to Chattanooga compiled a list of the “worst of the worst” violent offenders. But the Inspector General for the Department of Justice found that Chattanooga failed to arrest even half of them.
  • Crime was so high in Chattanooga in 2004, that 107 American cities were safer. And it got worse in 2005, Corker's last year, when 170—out of 200—cities were safer.
  • Rapes, sex crimes, and drug crimes all rose more than 20 percent during Mayor Corker's tenure, according to the TBI
  • Bob Corker froze the pay of Chattanooga police and firefighters, even while he took three pay raises himself.2

FBI: Violent crime did not fall 50 percent under Bob Corker. In fact, it increased his last full year in office. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, comprised of reports received from cities and counties across the nation and considered the gold standard of crime reports, defines four crimes as violent crimes: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.3

Simply put, Bob Corker’s claim to his mother does not match up with the final statistics compiled and submitted to the FBI by the Chattanooga Police Department.

FBI: Violent crime in Chattanooga under Bob Corker4

According to the FBI, there were 2,734 acts of violent crime reported in Chattanooga in 2000, the last full year before Mayor Corker took office in April 2001. In Corker’s first year as mayor, violent crime increased 2.7%, as 2,809 acts of violent crime were reported to police.

In 2004, Corker’s last full year (he served until April 2005), there were 2,015 acts of violent crime. This figure represents a drop of only 28% from his first year as mayor, and a drop of only 26% for his entire term, barely half the claim Corker makes to his mother.5

After two years of falling violent crime rates in 2002 and 2003, the FBI reports show violent crime actually increased in 2004 by 1.4 percent. Leading the increase was a 44 percent surge in forcible rapes. As detailed below, TBI statistics confirm drug crimes and sex crimes also increased in 2004.

CPD Internal Documents: Violent crime did not fall 50 percent under Bob Corker. Even the internal documents of the Chattanooga Police Department do not support the Corker claim of cutting violent crime by 50%. A “Crime Trend Comparison” in 2005 showed the following:

CPD: Violent crime in Chattanooga under Bob Corker6

These numbers, which are not final to the extent of the Uniform Crime Report data, reflect violent crime decreases of only 39% since 2001 and, more accurately, 33 percent down since 2000.

Sex crimes rose 34.2 percent during Corker’s mayoral term. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation tracks reported sex crimes in Tennessee, including forcible rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault, forcible fondling, incest, and statutory rape. These crimes increased from 210 reported cases during Corker's first year in office to 282 during his last full year as Mayor, an overall increase of 34.2%, and a 33% increase in 2004 alone.

Sex crimes in Chattanooga under Bob Corker7

Drug crimes rose 21 percent during Corker’s mayoral term. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation tracks reported drug-related crimes in Tennessee, including narcotics violations and narcotics equipment violations. These drug offenses in Chattanooga jumped from 1,205 cases during his first year in office to 1,458 in his last full year as Mayor. That is an overall increase of 21%, and an increase of 5% in 2004 alone.

Drug crimes in Chattanooga under Bob Corker

Public records indicate the Corker administration sought to manipulate crime data for political gain, despite knowing that CPD data was unreliable and incomplete.

  • In a January 2002 e-mail, Corker’s chief of staff, Michael Compton, complained to Police Chief Jimmie Dotson about a story reporting the city’s rising crime rate in 2001. “To re-state the obvious—articles like the one that appeared this morning are terribly damaging to our city, especially as our economic development efforts relate to attracting new employers to the area. When you read the article it becomes obvious that there are many explanations for the ranking, but the fact that this type of information makes the paper at all is something we both should want to control as much as much as possible.”
  • In a September 27, 2002, e-mail following a meeting with Chief Dotson and senior members of the Corker administration, including Compton, communications director Todd Womack, and finance chief David Eichenthal, CPD spokesman Ed Buice cautioned the Corker administration against relying on the CPD’s preliminary crime statistics. “My concern—based on almost 5 years of wrangling with these computers out here—is that resting the base of the ladder on statistics will put us on some very shifty sand.”1
  • A September 30, 2002, memorandum from Womack to the persons who attended the “crime stats” meeting set forth the Corker administration’s philosophy of spinning data regarding public safety to suit Bob Corker’s political interests: “Certainly we try to avoid media attention when our crime numbers are not showing a positive trend.” In that same memo, Womack acknowledged that the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, shortly to come out, would show that crime increased in Chattanooga in 2001.11
  • Two August 2004 e-mails from police data analyst Ponda Foster said CPD “crime numbers cannot and will not validate or be accurate until the garbage within the system is cleaned.” Foster said problems plaguing CPD’s record-keeping meant preliminary crime data for May and June 2004 had been understated. Foster wrote on August 18 of the 2004 data gathered to date: “Most of it will be full of garbage creating inaccurate reports and missing incidents from the crime map.”12
  • On January 5, 2005, using reports “full of garbage,” in the words of his own police department, Mayor Corker declared violent crime had declined 51 percent from 2001 to 2004, a claim he would repeat twice in his Senate campaign 18 months later.

The difference in Chattanooga between falling crime rates in 2002-03 and 2004? Bob Corker changed police chiefs. And crime began rising again.

  • Despite declining crime rates in 2002 and 2003, Mayor Corker inexplicably forced police chief Jimmie Dotson to retire in December 2003. Said Corker political director (and former mayoral communications director) Todd Womack: “To be honest, Chief Dotson never had a complete grasp of what was going on in this department.”13
  • Mayor Corker then embarked on a bizarre course to hire a new chief. He announced his first choice, former Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Larry Wallace, on January 14, 2004, calling him “the best candidate at this point in time.” According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “the announcement stunned many Tuesday. Mr. Wallace, 59, a 40-year law enforcement veteran, was not among the four candidates Mr. Corker and a five-member panel interviewed to succeed the retiring Chief Jimmie Dotson.”14
  • Six days later, Wallace dropped out of the running because of the "type and tone of questions" from City Council members, who challenged Wallace’s hiring practices at the TBI.15
  • Having botched his first choice, Corker pledged to make his next selection in exactly the same way—by foregoing a national search and keeping the process from public eyes. “Mr. Corker said the public doesn't need to know the process for selecting a new chief,” reported the Times Free Press.16 The newspaper editorialized that Corker’s failure marked “a sizable setback for Mr. Corker” and that it illuminated “the impact of Mayor Corker's brash management style on members of the City Council.”17
  • After the Wallace debacle, Mayor Corker selected Steve Parks to be chief. Crime rose in Chattanooga in 2004.18 Parks announced his retirement earlier this year.19

After Corker changed police chiefs, the Attorney General called Chattanooga “one of the hottest zones of criminal activity” in the nation in 2004, “struggling with violent crime problems.” In the summer of 2004, with crime declining nationwide for the 13th consecutive year, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft identified Chattanooga as one of 15 cities “struggling with violent crime problems,” and intervened by inserting a team of federal ATF agents into the city.

According to a 2004 news story from FOXNews: “The Justice Department is dispatching teams of federal agents to 15 cities struggling with violent crime problems despite a dropping U.S. crime rate, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday. Ashcroft told reporters that the effort would be targeted at 'the hottest zones of criminal activity' in cities where high murder and violence rates persist despite a violent crime rate that is at a 30-year low nationwide, based on federal victimization statistics." 20 According to a 2004 Department of Justice press release, Chattanooga was “selected after examining a number of factors, including recent homicide and violent crime numbers, and the opportunity for law enforcement to make a significant difference in the community.”21

The program did not, however, work. The Inspector General for the Department of Justice found that ATF agents compiled a list of more than 50 of the “worst of the worst” criminal offenders in Chattanooga under Mayor Bob Corker. Chattanooga police were unable to arrest even half of the most serious offenders.22

Chattanooga ranked only the 108th safest city in 2004 in the nation during Corker's last full year in office. Forbes magazine rated Chattanooga only the 108th for its 2004 crime rate, more dangerous than Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York.23

Chattanooga ranked only the 171st safest city in 2005. Bob Corker left Chattanooga more dangerous than he found it, as the city finished 2005 as the 171st worst city for crime, out of 200 cities rated.24