Stats figure in race for sheriff
October 17, 2006
Challenger Rick Magnuson has leveled fresh allegations of incompetence at Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis’ office by using statistics from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. “Magnuson was getting his numbers from a very inaccurate website,” Braudis said. “Rick Magnuson’s numbers have been harvested from a toilet bowl of data.”The numbers, however, are from the records department of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. The difficulty lies not in the statistics being erroneous – they’re not – but that the figures are difficult to compare. “[Magnuson’s] been pretty thorough in gathering numbers,” said Patty Raab, the public safety records specialist who tabulates data for Aspen police and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office. “He’s getting statistics from legitimate sources.”Magnuson compared statistics on motor vehicle theft, burglaries and rapes with the same stats from Eagle County and Garfield County. Then he compared the numbers of reported crimes with the arrests and tabulated a “success rate” from those numbers.The only problem is that Eagle County and Garfield County use a different program than Pitkin County for tabulating and reporting crime statistics to the CBI. Pitkin County is outdated, Raab said, in the use of Uniform Crime Reports and intends to upgrade to the same system as Eagle and Garfield: the National Incident Based Reporting System, which is much more detailed.For example, the report Pitkin County would send to CBI would record one person arrested in six burglaries as only one arrest, while the system Eagle and Garfield use would record six arrests. Hence, Magnuson tabulated 146 burglaries in Pitkin County from 2000 to 2005, with 16 arrests and concluded there was an 11 percent success rate. He compared that to a 16 percent and 20 percent success rate in Garfield and Eagle counties, respectively. “I don’t want to say apples to oranges, because it’s not that different,” Raab said. “[The two systems] are very different, so the numbers will be reported in a slightly different manner.”Regardless, the CBI statistics don’t include reported crimes that were later cleared. Going through the numbers at the sheriff’s office show a much higher “success rate,” than what Magnuson portrayed.
For example, while the CBI showed 86 motor vehicle thefts and 12 arrests in Pitkin County between 2000 and 2005, the sheriff’s office recorded 37 motor vehicle thefts between 2004 and the present, while 15 cases were cleared or people were arrested. Braudis apologized Tuesday for saying his office had made 1,004 DUI arrests since 2000, when the number is actually 329. Magnuson claimed he wasn’t aware there are different ways to report stats to CBI. “I don’t use the word ‘success,'” said Detective Joe DiSalvo, Braudis’ director of investigations. “I don’t chalk up success to putting someone in jail. That’s somebody else’s failure, not our success.”Some of the other allegations Magnuson leveled at Braudis have turned out to have a more solid foundation. Magnuson has said the current sheriff has too many supervisors per patrolman. There is basically one supervisor for every two deputies on the patrol side of the department. Including the jail ups the average to three deputies per supervisor. On the other hand, Magnuson claimed the patrol budget is $2.6 million, while the patrol budget is actually $1.6 million, according to Braudis. Braudis also took issue with Magnuson’s claims regarding methamphetamine in the area, saying it is not a threat so far. DiSalvo, who said he met with a DEA agent Tuesday, added that the DEA does not have any investigations into meth labs or meth use in Pitkin County. “Rick is nipping at our heels like a yapping yorkie,” Braudis said Tuesday. While Magnuson resorted to some hyperbole in his press release, calling Braudis “inactive,” “unwilling to change,” and having a “head-in-the-sand attitude.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org