Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Report: Bob Corker's Claims On Crime Doesn't Add Up

R. Neal over at Knox Views has another very good fact checking report on Bob Corker. This time it has to do with Bob Corker's claims that he reduced violent crime by half during his tenure as Mayor in Chattanooga.

As you will see in Neal's report, that doesn't appear to be the case:

Bob Corker has made repeated claims that he reduced violent crime by more than half during his term as Mayor of Chattanooga (examples here, here, here, and here).

That would be pretty impressive if true. What's puzzling, though, is that FBI crime statistics do not seem to support this claim.

Read more after the jump...

According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, violent crimes per 100,000 population reduced 28% from 2001 to 2004 in Chattanooga. The City of Knoxville had a similar 22% reduction in violent crime for the same period. Yet both cities were well above the national average for every type of crime in 2004, and Chattanooga's crime rates were higher than Knoxville's in every category save one.

Perhaps Corker was referring to murders, which did indeed decrease by 58% from 2001 (26) to 2004 (11). This appears, however, to be an anomaly. [Ed. note: apparently not, see update below.] There were 24 murders in 2002, 19 in 2003, and 23 in 2005. So one could also argue that there was a 110% increase in murders from 2004 to 2005 on Corker's watch.

Another disturbing statistic is the increase in the number of forcible rapes, which increased in Chattanooga by 44% from 2001 to 2004.

Chattanooga did better in other categories across the board, including a 13% reduction in property crime from 2001 to 2004, 20% reduction in burglaries, 36% reduction in robberies, and a 28% reduction in aggravated assaults.

These are pretty impressive numbers, and Corker could justifiably take some credit for the improvements. But no matter how you add it up, there is no reduction of violent crime by "more than half" as Corker has repeatedly claimed.

Perhaps we're reading it wrong, or there is something wrong with our math, or the City of Chattanooga has a second set of crime statistics books that would back up Corker's claims. If so, we hope someone can explain it.

Otherwise, Corker should stick to the facts, which in this case cast his record in a favorable light without any exaggeration. Why make stuff up? Why risk turning what should be a positive into yet another question about his integrity?

UPDATE: We contacted former Chattanooga Police Chief Jimmie Dotson about these statistics. He said that the numbers sound right according to the best of his recollection, and that he is not sure what Corker is referring to when he says violent crime was reduced by more than half.

Mr. Dotson said that Corker may be referring to the reduction in murders in 2004, Mr. Dotson's last year as Chief of Police during which he said there was a special enforcement program to reduce homicides. Otherwise, he said that if you are talking about "violent crime", that category (and the FBI reporting standard) includes murder and other violent crimes such as rape and assault.

Once again, well done. Thank goodness there are people out there willing to stand up and take Bob Corker to task for his numerous lies.

Another fact check and another instance of Bob Corker being proven a liar.