Monday, August 28, 2017

Crime data restored to Montgomery County open data website + Bethesda crime update

After illegally removing both archived and ongoing crime incident data from the Data Montgomery website on July 19, Montgomery County has restored them as of this morning. The unprecedented 40-day blackout of crime information was a violation of the County's open data law. By comparison, when the County's poorly-thought-out open data law led to residents' email addresses being posted on the internet, the County Council illegally removed the dataset, but later had to revise the law to make such removals legal.

"How would you like 
it if I judged your career 
by those seven minutes 
when you walked off 
the set in New York?''

The data scrub not only reduced public safety and awareness of neighborhood crime trends, but was yet another fiasco for County Councilmember Hans Riemer, the self-proclaimed data guru and Council "Lead for Digital Government." If Dan Rather was remembered for his seven-minute walk-off on the CBS Evening News, what will voters make of the forty days that Riemer spent twiddling his thumbs doing nothing, while critical public safety data remained offline?

In addition, the dataset is now far more unwieldy to use, scrolling far horizontally. Location information is now far less useful - not only is it nowhere near the crime-type column, but it currently is showing no block number. That makes it impossible to zero in on a crime hot spot, particularly on a major road. Crime types are now less clear, rather than more precise - another big step backwards for Riemer and MoCo, even as they falsely claim to be leading the nation. Laughable! For example, where it used to be clear that property had been vandalized, there is now a generic "property damage" tag, that could cover any number of scenarios.

In my investigation, I found out that Fairfax County stopped providing crime data around the same time as Montgomery pulled its data offline. Both counties, coincidentally, are experiencing an explosion of gang-related violence, crime and homicides. Were the removal, and now less-useful, less-user-friendly restored data, an attempt by Fairfax and Montgomery to cover-up the gang-related crime spike?

So far, no one I've contacted in MoCo government has been able to provide a credible explanation for the data removal - if they even answered my queries at all. I am still awaiting results of an information request from County Director of Public Information made August 14.

Finally, here is the latest crime report, for August 26:

Theft from vehicle. Aberdeen Road.

Theft. Democracy Boulevard.

Counterfeiting/forgery. Democracy Boulevard.

Property damage. Gainsborough Road.


Anonymous said...

"How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York?''

How is a 29-year-old quote from George H.W. Bush the slightest bit relevant to this "story"?

Anonymous said...

9:55 AM -

"If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain."

"If the molehill won't come to Robert Dyer, then Robert Dyer must go to the molehill."

Anonymous said...

"So far, no one I've contacted in MoCo government has been able to provide a credible explanation for the data removal"

Uh, dataMontgomery and MCPD both explained publicly that the county was transitioning to a new crime data reporting system, thanks to a federal grant. The process was completed the other day:

Anonymous said...

If less detailed data is provided, how was this an "upgrade"?
Looking forward to MoCo's response.

Anonymous said...

"In my investigation, I found out that Fairfax County stopped providing crime data"


Anonymous said...

"Powered by WordPress"

Wow, that's just one step above Robert Dyer's hobby blogs. LOL

Anonymous said...

I think Robert should conduct an experiment on the crime data. I have the feeling the county is trying to hide data from us. Robert should commit a crime and then check the data to see if it gets reported through the open source channel. I think the county council is hiding the true crime data somewhere.

Anonymous said...

10:19 AM - Crime only counts when it is done by the blacks and the mexicans.

Robert Dyer said...

10:04: Wrong. You'll notice that "explanation" never mentions archived and ongoing data being taken down from the site for 40 days. These datasets are uploaded to Socrata, so they didn't need to be removed while they "updated."

And if this is an update, why does it have less information than before? The article claims there will be more information, not less.

I saw the article, but it had no relevance to the outage on Data Montgomery - it doesn't even mention it! That's the news, but getting a look at less-detailed crime reports than before - that's newsworthy now, too. What's going on here?

Anonymous said...

I posted this on July 28th. That's me at 10:44

I posted it again on August 9th at 8:15

I don't know why Robert had so much trouble. It only took a few phone calls to get to someone with the answers.

Anonymous said...

"In my investigation, I found out that Fairfax County stopped providing crime data"

Probably because they, too, were one of the "21 large police agencies" who received the same federal grant MoCo did to upgrade their reporting system. That seems far more likely than the multi-state conspiracy theory you're floating, Robert, yes?

Anonymous said...

"Were the removal, and now less-useful, less-user-friendly restored data, an attempt by Fairfax and Montgomery to cover-up the gang-related crime spike?"

Dude, are you serious?

Anonymous said...

Oh noes! The FairCo Cartel is now conspiring with the MoCo Cartel!

Burt Macklin, FBI needs to investigate their conspiracy to migrate their crime data to the FBI's preferred format!

Robert Dyer said...

9:30/12:27: If they really did change to the "FBI preferred format," why are there less data points than before?! And why would the existing data have to be removed during the update? It's not on a server, it's on Socrata's server.

1:04: I'm very serious.

Anonymous said...

Robert Dyer's response to @ 12:27 PM on the Spooky White Flint Sign thread:

"8:15: I've received that same stonewalling excuse, but am probing further in my investigation. It will be worth the wait.

"'New crime reporting guidelines.' Where are those Nancy Floreen Golden Shovels when you need one?"

On the "Montgomery County crime data blackout enters 9th day" thread:

"7:08: Only one of those wasn't in a police press release, but you touch on one of the possible motivations to conceal the crime data: to ensure that there will be favorable media spin on crime stories.

"I heard the sirens responding to the stabbing Saturday night. Yet, conveniently, not only is there no crime data, but all public safety radio channels were offline all weekend, unavailable to hear via scanner. So I was completely blacked out, while that information could later be arbitrarily relayed by executive branch employees to favored media outlets that might not ask too many questions, or note current crime trends.

"Is the recent gang-related spike in the crime the reason why crime information is now being suppressed and censored? That's what I'm trying to find out in my current investigation."

LOL, you sound like Captain Queeg, Dyer.

"Ahh, but the strawberries that's... that's where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt and with... geometric logic... that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox DID exist, and I'd have produced that key if they hadn't of pulled the Caine out of action. I, I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officers..."

Robert Dyer said...

5:25: No, I sound like something hard to find in Montgomery County these days - an actual journalist.

Anonymous said...

Nope. An op-ed writer.

Anonymous said...

Puh-leese You wouldn't know journalism if you fell over it.

Robert Dyer said...

7:15: No more biased than any other local news source, just biased in favor of Bethesda residents, instead of developers and crooked politicians. Unlike other outlets, I'm not at war with my readers, or trying to make Bethesda residents sound like rich racists.

Anonymous said...

One only compares their work to others when they are unable to defend their work on it's own.