Jessamy critical of police data

Prosecutor says the department's report is inaccurate, based on `rogue database'

April 13, 2006|By GUS G. SENTEMENTES | GUS G. SENTEMENTES,SUN REPORTER

The feud between the city Police Department and city State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy flared again yesterday when Jessamy accused the department of using a "rogue database" to discredit her agency's prosecution of violent felons.

Jessamy, who has clashed with Mayor Martin O'Malley and the Police Department in the past, told the city's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council that statistics compiled by the police and forwarded to some City Council members last month were inaccurate.

The dispute stems from a contentious budget hearing last month during which Jessamy squared off against Councilman James B. Kraft and council Vice President Stephanie C. Rawlings Blake, who criticized the top prosecutor for not submitting her agency to a management audit. The council members also criticized her office's felony conviction rate, and then abruptly cut her off at the meeting.

Kraft and Blake, who have stood behind the mayor as others have called for an audit of the Police Department's crime statistics, apologized last month for their actions at that hearing.

But after that hearing, Jessamy said, she asked the top officials in her office to review the City Council report - which she called "outrageous" - and compile more data, which she presented yesterday to members of the coordinating council. Jessamy said police pulled statistics from a "rogue database."

Kristen Mahoney, chief of technical services for the police, told members at the meeting that she culled the information that was used in the City Council report from court dockets and the criminal justice information system's database.

She said she left yesterday's meeting, reviewed the data that Jessamy's office presented and determined that the department's analysis remained accurate. At issue were cases where an individual had been charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder.

Jessamy said her office analyzed 549 violent crime cases and found that only 140 were represented accurately in last month's City Council report. An 18-page spreadsheet that Jessamy's aides disseminated at the meeting gave a breakdown of the disposition of each case.

Mahoney said that she prepared information for last month's report in response to a request from the City Council. She said she analyzed 460 cases, excluding cases involving juveniles, cases transferred to federal court, pending cases and cases not found in the system.

The report last month showed that of the 460 cases, 215 resulted in guilty convictions - a 46 percent rate. Mahoney said that when she applied the same methodology to the data that Jessamy presented yesterday, the conviction rate was about the same.

"The information that Mrs. Jessamy provided yesterday added no value to the discussion," Mahoney said yesterday after the meeting. "I did it exactly as Mrs. Jessamy would've wanted us to."

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council is a taxpayer-funded organization made up of court and law enforcement officials. Members meet monthly over lunch to discuss crime-related problems.

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

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