Hey, there! Log in / Register

Police crime database goes bonkers; councilor wants answers

Call up the BPD crime database for 2021 today and the first 43 items consist of one row about some lost property on New Sudbury Street followed by 42 more rows that just duplicate the first item.

City Councilor Andrea Campbell (Dorchester, Mattapan, Roslindale) says an explosion of duplicate entries, coupled with changes in the descriptions of many incidents, are making it difficult for groups that try to chart crime in the city and use the data to plan strategies for dealing with it. The council yesterday approved her request for a hearing to figure out what's going on.

Campbell said that researchers at Citizens for Juvenile Justice began noticing problems a few weeks ago. Shortly after the new year, when BPD split what had been one large database going back to 2015 into several year-based databases, the 2020 file showed roughly 29,000 unique incidents, but a month later it had grown to 91,000 separate incidents.

Also, many of the crime descriptions changed with no explanation, for example, from "harassment" to "criminal harassment/harassment," she said.

Neighborhoods: 
Topics: 

Ad:

Comments

It’s probably a software issue. Sounds like they made some changes and it messed up the data transfer. BPD’s RMS has been balky since John Daley spent $$$$$$$$ on a new upgrade several years ago. Perhaps Councilor Campbell could reach out to acting PC Long and ask about this rather than grandstanding and calling a meeting.

up
Voting closed 35

Feeling the jitters...

up
Voting closed 11

That dastardly bandit Bobby Tables must have got himself arrested.

up
Voting closed 17

Over what is probably just someone screwing up the database query which populates that particular dataset on data.boston.gov. That single table is almost certainly the result of several joins across multiple tables in the source database(s) and it's easy for even seasoned database analysts to make a mistake which isn't always obvious at first.

Maybe instead of having a hearing, one might take the time to contact the people who manage data.boston.gov (https://www.boston.gov/departments/analytics-team) and mention that the data looks wrong and that there are a bunch of duplicate records. If they don't get back to you in a timely fashion, you go through the various levels of management up through the mayor -- but I'd be really, really surprised if they'd ignore a message from a councilor.

up
Voting closed 30

Something with results that dramatic always is.

Either the query or the index is borked.

up
Voting closed 12

does the public really need to be consulted or informed if they change "harassment" to "criminal harassment/harassment,"?

up
Voting closed 15

A few years ago, the Walsh administration announced a big open-data initiative to let people, i.e., the public, tap into all the information city agencies collect. Turns out some people are actually using that data, in some pretty interesting ways (as opposed to just using the police database to look up addresses of crimes from time to time like I've done). You start monkeying around with the entries and definitions, without telling anybody, you're going to cause problems for such folks.

up
Voting closed 15

An issue like this just provdes cover for the city council not tackling more impotant issues.

up
Voting closed 12

The police overtime budget? Even city councilors are able to deal with more than one issue in a week.

up
Voting closed 10