It’s so ridiculous, we almost couldn’t believe our eyes Tuesday. But there it was.
Chicago Police Supt. David Brown went on Twitter to brag that carjackings were down 20% during the first two weeks of February compared to the last two weeks of January.
Brown hailed “significant progress over the past several weeks” by the department’s hijacking task force.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service’ Chicago office sent a few tweets Tuesday, too.
“So how about these past three weeks Windy City??” the weather service tweeted. “Three winter storms, lake effect snow, blowing snow, heavy wet snow, light fluffy snow…you name a snow and the city has seen it. It’s the snowiest 3-week stretch for the city since the historic 1978-1979 winter.”
Indeed, the weather service had some statistics of their own that Brown seemed more than willing to ignore as he took credit for a supposed decline in carjackings
“Chicago is also currently at 9 consecutive calendar days of accumulating snowfall,” the National Weather Service said in a follow-up tweet. That “ties the record from Feb 3-11, 2018. Snow records for Chicago date back to 1884.”
As if Brown’s willingness to overlook the obvious effect that blizzard conditions and sub-zero temperatures might have on carjacking activity, there’s more.
Even with the “decline” in carjackings this month when compared to late January, the city still managed to record a nearly 100% increase in carjackings during February compared to the same time last year.
CPD logged 68 carjackings during the first 15 days of this month. There were 35 during the same period last year.
The weather is even helping cops catch some carjackers. On Wednesday morning, CPD announced that 34-year-old Aurelio Davila is being charged with vehicular hijacking for allegedly taking a woman’s car in Little Village yesterday.
“Responding officers observed the vehicle in traffic and attempted to curb it,” the department said in a media release. “The offender continued driving until becoming stuck in the snow. The offender was then placed into custody and charged accordingly.”
Brown’s shameless boast about a “decline” in carjacking reports during record-setting bad weather — even when the “decline” is actually a significant increase year-over-year — won’t surprise many people.
The Chicago Police Department has a storied history of twisting statistics into pretzel shapes to find a way to claim that crime reports are “down” or its strategies are effective.
Just last month, Brown claimed the department made 1,127 carjacking-related arrests in 2020. CWBChicago found the real number of carjacking arrests was 178. CPD inflated Brown’s number by lumping in more than 900 arrests for “criminal trespass to vehicle,” which simply means those people were allegedly inside a car without the permission of its owner.
And CPD brass generated a real zinger on February 1 when they issued a press release claiming that four police districts “are at 20-year lows for homicide.”
According to the police statement, the Near North, Town Hall, Rogers Park, and Jefferson Park districts were at 20-year lows for murders on February 1.
Yet, a review of the department’s own data shows Near North, which includes River North, the Gold Coast, Streeterville, and part of Lincoln Park, had 10 murders last year — more than any year since 2005.
The Rogers Park district had 11 murders last year, the most of any year since 2011 and among the worst since 2001.
Jefferson Park had 10 murders last year and in 2019, far more than any other year dating back to 2001.
And Town Hall had four homicides in 2020, which is actually pretty good historically, but is still higher than 2013 and 2009.
So, how did the Chicago Police Department twist the numbers to claim that those districts were at “20-year lows for homicide?”
Easy. They only counted murders during the month of January 2021. Those districts didn’t have any murders during January 2021, so their homicide count for the month — zero — is the lowest it could be. And, thus, they’re at “20-year lows.”
There’s good news for Brown, though. The National Weather Service is forecasting snow for Wednesday and Thursday, which will set a new record of 11 consecutive days of measurable snow in Chicago — the most since 1884 (one year before the invention of the automobile).