A big thanks to Rend Smith at City Paper for taking a look at Homicide Watch’s database of 2010 D.C. homicides and getting answers from Chief Cathy Lanier and Public Information Officer Gwendolyn Crump on what what wrong.
Homicide Watch posted the database yesterday in two sheets- the first listing all 2010 homicides in the District according to Metro Police press releases, FBI press releases, and media reports, the second page pulled data from OCTO, D.C.’s office of technology. The first page listed 113 homicides, the second 131.
Said City Paper:
A quick count of the press releases on MPD’s website backed up Homicide Watch’s theory the numbers didn’t add up. Homicides usually earn an announcement by the department. Often, MPD will ask for the public’s help solving the case, so the idea of 18 slayings falling through the cracks is a big deal.
City Paper asked Metro PD if “the discrepancy was the product of a typo: The homicide tally on the MPD crime stats website was meant to read 113.” Lanier said it wasn’t.
“We wouldn’t make a mistake like that… It is 131.”
So what happened? City Paper was able to look into this before we were and figured it out.
MPD spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump says the department has looked into the puzzle, and found the missing press releases. They were issued but didn’t end up on the website, she explains via e-mail. “Our website has been updated. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.” Crump did not immediately respond to questions about which homicides in particular fell into an information black hole.
Homicide Watch D.C. is leaving the data and spreadsheet up while we work on going through the past year’s press releases and figure out which ones are the missing ones. The spreadsheet is open for collaboration in Google Docs so please help out if you can. We’re looking for press releases for cases highlighted in blue-green. See this post for hints on how to read the spreadsheets.