Irvin is playing the numbers game, claiming he’s reduced homicides by 40%

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin is promoting a “tough on crime” mantra as part of his campaign for Illinois governor.

Since Irvin jumped into the Republican primary earlier this year, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker and lawmakers have criticized Irvin for touting an anti-crime reputation while ignoring his 15 years of work as a defense attorney. .

In a Feb. 20 tweet, Irvin said, “In my first year in office Aurora’s homicides were down 40%. As crime explodes under anti-police politicians, I’ve cracked down on crime in Aurora. Send me to Springfield and I’ll do the same all over Illinois.

We decided to check whether Irvin’s claims of reducing homicides in a year stand up to his claim that he has “cut crime” since taking office in May 2017.

Irvin, who has been mayor for five years, chose to compare the two years that reflect the biggest drop in homicides. Overall, however, homicides fluctuated under his tenure.

According to the Aurora Police Department, six homicides were committed in Aurora in 2017 and four in 2018.

Irvin spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said her team analyzed data from 2016 — the last full year before Irvin took office — and 2018 — the first full year after. In 2016, seven homicides took place in the city of around 200,000 people. According to the data, she referred to a total of 11 homicides over two years.

“The number comes up to 43%, which we rounded up to 40%,” Demertzis said, attributing the mayor’s “strong leadership” to a drop in crime. She said he had increased police budgets and added more officers.

Demertzis pointed to a 2021 study by WalletHub that ranked Aurora as the sixth largest safe city in America.

But experts say it is both misleading and dishonest to attribute crime trends involving such low figures, particularly homicide rates.

Ted Gest, founding partner of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College, said it would be difficult for a mayor to claim credit or blame himself for changes in crime rates to n’ any time period, as the data fluctuates often.

“It’s kind of ridiculous for a mayor to say he’s reduced homicides by 40%,” Gest said. “In this case, when the numbers are obviously very small, single-digit numbers, why not just use the real numbers?”

Using Irvin’s calculations, the homicide rate in his second year in office jumped 200%, from four in 2018 to 12 in 2019.

Gest, who oversees the daily Crime and Justice News and is the author of Crime and Politics, a book about exploding crime rates in the United States, said it was unreliable to compare the rates homicides year over year, especially with small numbers like Aurora’s. Any event resulting in multiple homicides can lead to a drastic change in the homicide rate.

Take the 12 homicides that occurred in Aurora in 2019. Five of the 12 total murders were linked to a single event – ​​a shooting at the Henry Pratt Company.

The use of accurate figures is particularly important when considering other factors that influence crime trends. According to Wesley Skogan, professor emeritus at Northwestern University and member of the research faculty at the Institute for Policy Research, it can also be useful to consider domestic crime and, in some cases, international crime.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin attends a prayer vigil for the five people killed two days earlier in a 2019 Henry Pratt Company mass shooting.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin attends a prayer vigil for the five people killed two days earlier in a 2019 Henry Pratt Company mass shooting.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times File

For example, Skogan pointed to the 11 homicides that occurred in Aurora in 2020 and said that high number was “fully consistent” with a national spike in crime when the US murder rate increased 30% between 2019 and 2020.

Skogan echoed Gest and added that it’s useful to look at crimes that have a significant impact rather than measuring success by small numbers.

“It would be more helpful for municipal leaders to focus on multiple categories of crimes that affect large numbers of residents in their community,” Skogan said.

Unless Irvin could point to a very specific change and tie it to something specific he did, it would be difficult to prove whether his actions helped reduce the number of homicides, Gest said.

Our decision

Irvin claimed he reduced homicides by 40% in his first year as mayor of Aurora.

There is only one grain of truth in that claim: homicides in Aurora fell from six to four in Irvin’s first year as mayor. Experts say using percentages to describe small swings in the city’s homicide statistics is misleading and has no proven connection to Irvin’s policies.

We are evaluating this complaint Especially false.

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MOSTLY FALSE – The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.

the Association for Better Government short PolitiFact Illinois, the local arm of the nationally renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking firm, which assesses the veracity of statements made by government leaders and politicians. BGA’s fact-checking service has partnered with the Sun-Times weekly, in print and online. You can find everything the PolitiFact Illinois stories we reported together here.

Sources:

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, “In my first year in office, Aurora’s homicides were down 40 percent.” February 20, 2022 Tweeter

2016 – 2021 Aurora Homicides, Aurora Police Department

WalletHub’s Best and Worst Run Cities in America 2021 Study

Pew Research Center, “The murder rate in the United States increased by 30% between 2019 and 2020” in an October 27, 2021 research article by John Gramlich

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