Public may panic if provided with basic statistical information…

Montreal's Finest

So apparently the Montreal Police think the public would panic if we knew the Métro’s actual crime statistics, as they apparently have been feeding us bullshit for years.

The Gazette filed an access-to-information request a few years back to get the following basic data from the SPVM: what kinds of crimes happen in the Métro? How often are crimes committed and how do the stations rank in terms of occurrence? Pretty basic stuff I’m actually a bit astonished the Gazette specifically had to request (i.e. you’d figure this would be public knowledge, available on a city website).

The SPVM said no, that divulging such information could compromise their crime-fighting efforts to such a degree they’d be starting from scratch. After a bit of a back and forth the issue has wound up in front of the Access to Information Commission which has so far balked at even reviewing the case at all (which makes me wonder why they wouldn’t – what do these commissions do otherwise?)

During discussions the police lawyer argued that making this information public may cause a panic, as though she knew the SPVM’s argument stats published in the English-language daily might ‘tip-off’ common criminals and derail their efforts was a bit short on substance.

The Gazette, by contrast, argues such information would pretty much reinforce what seasoned Métro riders already know – some stations require a bit more vigilance and situational awareness than others. The Gaz goes as far to suggest the information “could warn métro users about potential dangers and allow them to take preventive measures”.

I don’t think there’s much more that can be done aside from being vigilant, and I’d like to know how many Gazette readers take the Métro come to think of it, but I digress.

The Gazette has a point – this information should be public (and I’d argue far more accessible as well).

The point isn’t so much to warn riders of where they ought to keep their guard up (hint – always be aware of your surroundings, free life pro-tip for ya), but rather to feed a knowledge-hungry citizenry the vital statistical data it needs to study and assess the actions of its elected officials and civil servants.

I want to know where crime is happening to see if the cops are doing their jobs, to see what might be facilitating the crime at those specific stations. Is it the poverty of a nearby neighbourhood? Or is it bad station design?

As I mentioned earlier, the cops made an effort and provided what they call data, though it didn’t quite measure up. For one, they only provided limited information about each of the lines on average, grouping the interchange stations (like Lionel-Groulx, Snowdon, Berri-UQAM etc.) together with the Yellow Line to create some kind of an equilibrium, this despite having highly detailed information for every station at all hours of the day and night.

To put it bluntly, submitting official SPVM data concerning crime in the Montréal Métro wouldn’t pass a CEGEP-level research methods class. Not only is this statistical garbage, it’s purposely deceptive.

And if the Rob Ford scandal is any indicator, the SPVM should be concerned. They run risk of creating a panic by inferring the data would cause a panic. Despite the data’s still secret, unseen status, it may be able to damage police efforts anyways; nothing quite gets under the skin of a young journalist like denied information, and this city is swimming in reporters.

Dumb move gumshoes.

Now I wanna know too. And why doesn’t the STM have this kind of information? Wouldn’t they have some kind of an idea about the crimes that are taking place in the Métro system too?

In any event, the real crime in my eyes is that I can’t get platform gyros:

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