Cooking the books?
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) today accused Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley of tinkering with crime statistics to make his city appear safer than it really is.
In a question and answer session with reporters in Takoma Park, Duncan said he wanted a statewide audit of crime statistics because he does not believe O'Malley is being truthful when he says Baltimore has seen a significant reduction in crime.
"When you look at the methodology they used to create the baseline, it's very flawed,"Duncan said. "And I think those numbers are very suspect."
When a reporter asked Duncan if he is accusing O'Malley of lying, the county executive said, "I am accusing him of misrepresenting the facts. He needs to talk about what the truth is. We need to do a statewide audit to look at what the numbers are."
O'Malley had the city's crime reports audited after taking office in late 1999, leading to a higher rate of violent crime. Critics have said that by using the higher baseline, the mayor has exaggerated the reduction in crime under his stewardship.
Duncan's was unrelenting today in his criticism of O'Malley's record on crime and education.
"The mayor doesn't want anyone talking about his record. I can understand that because it is not a record that has lived up to the promises that were made," Duncan said. "We are going to keep talking about his record."
O'Malley's campaign shot back yesterday, saying Montgomery's homicide rate has increased 58 percent since 1999. The county's violent crime rate is up 23 percent during the past seven years, according to the O'Malley campaign. Although he didn't\' respond specifically to O'Malley's charge, Duncan said Montgomery's violent crime rate declined 19 percent since he was elected in 1994.
"Our numbers are not cooked," Duncan said.
Duncan was later asked how he would tackle Baltimore's homicide rate if he was in charge of the city. Duncan said he would focus on fixing the city's schools. "If you want long term reeducation in crime in the city of Baltimore, if you want improvement in jobs in Baltimore, fix your schools. That is my lesson here in Montgomery and something I want to bring all across the state."
Duncan said education has "never been a priority" for O'Malley."If you ignore your schools the way Mayor O'Malley has, no wonder they are not going to work," he said.
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