Back in January, FR Publisher Jon Fleischman posted "Epicenter of the Right Wing Conspiracy: San Diego!" on the Center on Policy Initiatives and their hee-haw opus, Target San Diego, about the so-called "Right Wing Assault on Urban Democracy and Smart Government."
Fun stuff, although I wouldn’t recommend reading all 79 pages of the report, unless you re-read some Karl — or even Groucho — Marx first.
The Center on Policy Initiatives, if not establishing any real credibility, is apparently doing so with some of the media. Richard Rider of San Diego Tax Fighters says these media outlets should be ashamed, and provides a great analysis of just why so:
San Diego Tax Fighters
Press Release – Authored by Richard Rider
Bogus Think Tank Hoodwinks Press on SD Crime Stats
The Center on Policy Initiatives is Actually a Labor Union Propaganda Mill
San Diego – Once again, some of the press mistook the Center for Policy Initiatives for a “think tank.” As a result, this labor union front group scored a coup, successfully claiming that San Diego is the least safe major city in California. CPI’s goal was simply to scare San Diegans into supporting higher taxes and increased spending on (unionized) police personnel.
CPI put out a “study” supposedly showing how unsafe San Diego is vs. other major cities in the state. In a clever ploy, their “proof” is that San Diego has the highest number of crimes per police officer. Sadly, at least two TV stations figured that meant that we San Diegans were less SAFE than residents in other cities.
But the two issues are quite separate. What SHOULD be looked at by the press is the crime rate per THOUSAND RESIDENTS. That is the standard, objective benchmark against which criminal activity is measured in any reputable analysis.
At the end of this press release I’ve included a more detailed example demonstrating the obvious misrepresentation in CPI’s case. But the bottom line is that the crime rate has been dropping in San Diego and elsewhere for many years. Indeed, would it not make sense to have less police since there are fewer crimes?
A quick and incomplete check of the local media found two TV stations – KUSI 9 and KNSD 7 – sucked in by the CPI report. Fortunately three TV stations I checked apparently did not do the story – XETV Fox 6, KFMB 8 and KGTV 10. As far as I can tell, the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE didn’t do the story either. Kudos to them all.
Both the stations that ran the story failed to note that the Center on Policy Initiatives is a union-dominated and funded “think tank.” I have no problem with biased think tanks, as long as the bias is disclosed. But it seems that too often the media notes when an outfit is from the limited government perspective, while omitting the bias factor when quoting such think tanks from the big government side of the spectrum.
KNSD 7/39 has a brief print story up on its website summarizing the CPI pitch, without any balancing source or qualification.
KUSI actually has the video of their story up on their website (credit where credit is due – they seem to have more accessible videos of their stories than any TV station). It’s worth visiting the URL below to see how badly the story was handled. There is a short countering sound bite in the story from Jesse Knight of the Chamber of Commerce, but frankly he didn’t make much of a case, nor did he get any significant air time.
Ironically, the bogus study WAS up on the Center for Policy Initiatives’ web site, but somehow the report has now disappeared. On their home page, CPI claims that they are doing some cleaning on their web site, you see. Uh huh.
Mind you, I’m not saying that San Diego doesn’t have a real problem with the departure of too many experienced police officers. While there are some fiscal advantages to such departures (IF we reform our pension plan), there comes a point where fewer police officers will adversely impact the community.
But the pitch by CPI is blatant and misleading propaganda. Rather than San Diego becoming less safe, it is safer per resident than it has been for decades!
Such skullduggery by public labor union advocates should be exposed at every opportunity. I may not be from the government, but I AM here to help!
Proof of CPI’s error: Suppose a city of 1,000,000 people has 1,000 police officers and 20,000 crimes per year. That would be 20 crimes per police officer. Assume that in 5 years the city population grows 10% to 1.1 million. Further assume that during those same 5 years the number of crimes drops 10% to 18,000, and the number of police officers drops 20% to 800.
The crimes per police officer would thus rise to 22.5 crimes per police officer (18,000 crimes divided by 800 officers). Does that mean the citizens are thus less safe? Yes, according to CPI.
But the truth is – of course not! In this example, the old crime rate per thousand residents was 20 crimes per 1,000 residents. Now the crime rate is lower – 16.36 crimes per thousand residents – a DROP of 18.2%. Yet CPI talked some of the media into reporting that such a reduction in police officers IN ITSELF increases crime. How wrong they are.