Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Homicide Rate: What's the real number?

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz tweeted that the murder rate is at 88. Bart Lies, one of the many websites created to throw out former Mayor Bart Peterson (and one of the few that is still up and running), has a different number.

Throughout the year, Bart Lies has kept track of each homicide that happens in this city. It has it at 92, with a full list of names for 2009 as well. He explains in this post that the homicide rate seems to get shortened by 4-5 each year. He says in the comments section that he doesn't specifically blame Mr. Shabazz, he just so happens to be the first to put the number out.

The reason these numbers are so important is because every single mayor says that public safety is #1. And this is something that average citizens can wrap their heads around. More importantly, it's something that politicians can't spin. The number is the number, no getting around that.

It's strange that even in the simple task of counting, two people can come up with different results.

Now would be a good time to remind readers (and myself) that homicide strictly refers to the act of one human taking the life of another. Homicide is not always illegal, and homicide and murder don't always go hand in hand. Justifiable homicide (self defense, for example) and a gang shooting a rival gang member (murder) both are different in the legality and what can/can't happen due to those acts. But both acts are still homicides.

Eventually, though, the media outlets will pick up the homicide rate, and they're far more likely to publish a source along with it. I'll update as needed.

EDIT: I misreported that Shabazz said homicide rate. After double checking, he did indeed use murder rate. My apologies. He also said his number came from Mayor Ballard's interview earlier today.


  1. Dude,

    Although there have been 92 homicides, the number of murders, according to IMPD, is 88. While all murders are homicides, not all homicides are murders. You will learn that as you get older and get more experience with these things.

  2. The issue isn't so much the #s themselves, because they are different statistics as I pointed out in my post, but rather the lack of source in your initial reporting of it. Numbers are meaningless unless one knows where they come from. Considering you have published anonymous statistics before, it surprises me you didn't just add "According to IMPD" or "Ballard says" so it clearly has a source.


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