Updated: Dec 19, 2022
A month-long investigation into the process and players in crime stats reporting by municipalities took an unexpected turn with apparent corruption of incident data to paint a narrative while misleading the public on actual facts that could result in harm to the public. Let’s start at the beginning.
What’s Supposed to Happen
A crime event occurs in the community, which leads to a 911 call.
A 911 center receives and tracks the call (or multiple calls) of an event.
A 911 center determines jurisdiction and dispatches the appropriate law enforcement agency or agencies (police inside cities, sheriff in rural areas, fire, or combination of agencies depending on jurisdiction overlap or mutual aid support)
The responding agency then tracks the call with the 911 center to its resolution.
What Really Happens
Here is where the data manipulation and laundering of facts occur.
The municipalities have direct contracts with 911 centers. Which means they own and control the data reported to the 911 center. It’s not the people’s data but the municipalities’ data.
The 911 Centers may/may not be controlled by the county. In a lot of cases they are private organizations. Municipalities can choose who provides their 911 service or they service it directly themselves.
Some 911 centers provide 911 data directly to the public; however 911 centers confirm this is not complete data, but only a subset that does not paint a complete, accurate picture of crime in a particular jurisdiction.
The municipalities should take this data and report out their crime stats based on the raw data to the sheriff, state agencies (TBI,GBI,etc), FBI or other groups on a regular basis.
The last step is where the issue exists. There is no direct oversight of the owners of the raw data for the public to trust the accuracy of reporting by the municipalities. Currently the raw data is not available to the public directly from upstream 911 centers due to contracts with municipalities, and no provision in Tennessee state law to require municipalities to provide direct raw feeds of 911 data prior to any massaging or tampering of the data for validation and accuracy. A source close to the Chattanooga Police Department stated that data is being scrubbed (or laundered). Example: Chattanooga CPD recently reported that car break-ins are down; however this is not accurate - the incident rates are being manipulated. For example, if a subject is responsible for multiple break-ins in an area, the data is being manipulated to show only one break-in for what should have been multiple break-ins, thereby driving down the stats provided to the public to conceal the real numbers. It also gets worse with re-classification of gang activities and other areas of data manipulation to push a narrative. The people want to know the real facts.
Why does this matter?
Data is the basis for agencies like the police and sheriff to base their operational planning, for budgeting, geographic coverage, staffing, etc. In Tennessee, a mayor and his/her appointed police chief can manipulate data to hide the real crime and bad policies, thereby putting the public at risk. County sheriffs have a Constitutional duty to provide protection to citizens even when cities fail to deliver on their commitments. However, county law enforcement and public service agencies that operate outside city jurisdiction need real and accurate data to know what’s really happening in their communities – and data that is NOT filtered by a municipality. Federal and state agencies also rely on this data to provide funding and other activities to communities based on the presumed accuracy of this data. Today there are no checks and balances in the data collection and reporting processes.
This is a huge problem and blind spot for communities. The solution is to have the State Legislature step-in and create or amend laws to open up transparency into 911 reporting and raw feeds from municipalities.
Some legislatures think municipalities, like cities, are more powerful than the state government. This is factually false. The cities derive their powers from state constitutions along with their approved structures, operations, and other factors. The state is the ultimate authority on what cities can and cannot do. For example, the state has the right to neuter the definition of “basic” services on what a city can require that taxpayers to fund, like fire, police, utilities (but not art in the park programs, illegal immigrants welcome centers, LGBT agenda and other boondoggle projects that are forced on the backs of city taxpayers without their consent). “Basic” should mean basic and any additional boondoggles should require cities to ratify in a vote by city taxpayers to take on the additional burden. State Legislatures need to enact new laws that require ALL cities/municipalities to deliver the raw 911 data feeds directly to a state fusion center in real-time where citizens, county and state agencies have direct access to the raw data which can be reconciled with downstream reporting of municipalities. This provides checks and balances and greater transparency to bad actors. This public oversight ensures full transparency and reconciliation of incidents, holding municipalities accountable for the years of corruption, coverups and data manipulation to push a narrative vs the actual facts in the public’s best interest. It also enables county sheriffs to hold city officials more accountable on their policing, and enables the state legislature to divert funds from cities to sheriffs to thwart city woke policing practices or lack of policing which harms public safety. This also has a beneficial secondary effect: Instead of cities reporting to Federal agencies, the state can now report directly to Federal agencies and determine what information is shared with these agencies, ensuring citizens’ civil rights and state’s rights are better protected while strengthening our republican form of government. This new solution ensures the 911 data is owned by the people and not manipulated by municipalities!