Podcast questions presentation of police data

Podcast questions presentation of police data

· The Pulse

The Edmonton Police Service raised the alarm about an increase in violent crime based on newly released data for 2022, but Episode 218 of Speaking Municipally had questions about those numbers.

"This is not a data dump in the way that you might think," co-host Mack Male said of the April 21 release. "This is Edmonton police releasing some charts and saying 'Trust us, this data is accurate.'"

The report, which was timed for a nationwide campaign for bail reform, indicated that violent crime increased by 16.5% from about 13,000 cases in 2021 to more than 15,000 in 2022. Edmonton saw the highest number of violent criminal incidents recorded in a single year, said Sean Tout, executive director of information management and intelligence.

But the definition of "violent criminal incidents" is not clear. And most of the charts show criminal incidents were less numerous and less severe in 2022 than before the pandemic. Pavlek presented an open-minded-if-skeptical lens to the way EPS reported its data.

"It could be that the EPS is presenting data that is completely true and forthcoming and presents a story that we need to remedy … (but) there was no spreadsheet that you could download the data and look at different contexts, there (were) no robust definitions or anything like that," he said. "I don't know that this report provides us enough to say truly: 'We are making data-based decisions.'"

Hear more in the April 28 episode, along with takes on the ongoing hiatus of the solar rebate program, efforts to repair social housing, the number of trees at risk in Hawrelak Park, and the politics of Calgary's arena deal.

Photo: A chart showing Edmonton's total crime rate per 100,000 people from 2013 to 2022 shows an increase since last year but lower levels than before the pandemic. (Edmonton Police Service)