Sunday, February 07, 2010

Fudging the numbers

Seems that the NYPD has been fudging the numbers to make the city seem safer than it really is. The NYPD then harumphs and points to a 5 year old audit that did not have subpoena power and was unable to come to any conclusions to "prove" that they're honest as the driven snow, bless ya.

This is what *always* happens, though, when people are evaluated based on statistics rather than on what's actually happening. This is the kind of thing that led to a principal in one school district I consulted for not expelling a student who came to school with a weapon threatening to kill another student (i.e., *not* a boy scout knife situation) -- he was afraid that it'd make his school look bad to have that weapons statistic on his school's record. In the event, the target of the student with the weapon reported it to his parents, who reported it to the school board, who reported it to the Superintendent who had enough and told his discipline chief, "go out there and interview everybody and get me what I need to fire this asshole, we can't have that kind of thing happening in our district." But that was a Superintendent who had integrity. Unfortunately, integrity is something that you can't count on when the system is set up to give incentives to lie...

-- Badtux the Incentives Penguin

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