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Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

Lies, Damned Lies, And Statistics

The latest report out of Chicago is more of the same and one that law enforcement must begin to address.

Despite massive drops in stop and frisks by the Chicago Police Department, African Americans are being stopped at a 71% rate while they only make up one-third of the population in the city.

The ACLU, as they have done in other cities, have said that the stops unfairly target minorities.

On the surface, that may seem like a sound argument but there is some important data that always seems to be missing in these continued allegations of police racism.

The race of crime victims and the race of the suspects is always oddly missing.

Police work doesn’t happen in a vacuum of random activities.  No one with common sense, considering the politics and pressure in Chicago, would believe that Chicago cops get out of bed in the morning and simply decide that they are going to make two-thirds of their stops against African Americans.

What happens is police officers across this country and in Chicago are assigned areas of high crime and they go to where victims of crime call them.  It is within those neighborhoods that stops, frisks and arrests are inevitably made.

So with that said, what do the victims and suspects look like in Chicago, which would be where the cops would be trying to reduce crime?

Well, we do not know all of the data because unlike the Milwaukee Police Department, the Chicago Police Department has not released the data but there is an external source where we can get a partial picture.

In 2016, it was reported that someone was shot in Chicago every 2 hours and someone was murdered every 11 hours to the tune of 804 homicides and 4379 shot.

The homicide victims were 78% black and out of those arrested, 75% were black.  We also know that in the vast majority of violent crimes, typically the race of the victim and offender are identical.  Well isn’t that an inconvenient truth that we rarely hear?

What would happen if we knew the racial data on all violent crime in Chicago?  Would it give us a clear picture of where cops are deployed and where ultimately they are making stops?

If you knew that African Americans made up two-thirds of the violent crime in a particular city, would it make sense that law enforcement would be engaged with that same population at a similar rate?

Of course this would give one a clearer picture.  Unless you are a group that never wants to speak about crime victims or the huge disparity that some minority groups commit violent crime.

If all of the data was out, there will be no story of racist cops.  The story may actually be what needs to be done to reduce violence and in particular that hyper-victimization of African Americans in many of our cities.

At the end of the day, it will be those victims that get ignored by all of the loud voices screaming racism.  Thankfully there still will be cops that are there to help and go into those neighborhoods to help crime victims despite the yells of racism as they put their life on the line to stop violence.

I am a huge believer in data but too many want to only release or talk about the data that helps them with their biased narrative that cops are racists.  Agencies should follow the model that Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn has routinely done and release all the data including the race of suspects and victims.

Most will not do this as they will be scared of being called the worst thing anyone can be called…..a racist.  Unfortunately, out of this fear, we are enabling some to call our organizations racist and diminish the fine work our men and women behind the badge are doing for their communities.

Just like Chief Flynn said a few weeks ago, “no one that lives where shootings are happening ask for less policing.”  It certainly makes you wonder whose side some of these so called “police reform” groups are actually on.

About The Author


Travis Yates is a writer and editor at Law Officer. An ILEETA Trainer of the Year, his Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for SAFETAC Training ( and the Founder of the Courageous Leadership Institute (, providing leadership consulting and training to law enforcement around the world.

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