Letter: Police stats -- devil is in the details
To the editor:
In the March 20, 2019 edition of the Osakis Review, a recap of the City Council meeting mentioned statistics for the Osakis Police Department. At first glance, these statistics are impressive. I, for one, highly respect the work of our local police and law enforcement authorities, but question why there was a need to highlight both Douglas County and Alexandria "calls" in comparison with those of the Osakis police.
The raw numbers make it appear that our police work harder than their counterparts in other jurisdictions, which I find hard to believe. I once had a professor of statistics that told his students that you can prove anything with statistics if people don't bother to look at the details.
Instead of looking only at the raw numbers, there must be a closer examination of what constitutes a "call" and thus the workload of our police officers. Obviously, a phone call to answer a question or routine patrols to survey an area or areas of town is very different than a "call" for emergency services or suspected criminal activity. Comparing Osakis with the City of Alexandria or Douglas County without checking "call" severity doesn't tell us whether the workload is indeed greater.
Population estimates for 2017 for Osakis, Alexandria, and Douglas County were 1705, 13592, and 37575, respectively. Are we to believe that crime rates are higher in Osakis, which has substantially fewer residents than that of Alexandria or Douglas County as a whole? I highly doubt that and think that the devil is in the details.
I hope that our City Council will closely scrutinize these statistics rather than take them at face value. We can ill afford more property tax increases to pay for additional police salaries and related vehicles that may or may not be needed.