WaPo: Biden's Rape, Murder Claims 'Absurd'

Friday, 21 Oct 2011 01:49 PM

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Vice President Joe Biden has claimed that failure to pass President Barack Obama’s jobs bill will lead to an increase in rapes and murders, citing as evidence increased crime in Flint, Mich.

The Washington Post, in a fact check of the assertion, called the claim “absurd.”

The president’s jobs bill includes a provision to send $35 billion to states and local governments to hire police, firefighters, and teachers.

Biden has been pushing for the measure in speeches and statements by noting that “in 2008, when Flint had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city. In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65 and rapes — just to pick two categories — climbed to 229. In 2011, you now only have 125 shields,” according to the Post.

However, a check of statistics by the Post found that “murder did go up — though the rate did not double from 2009 to 2010, as Biden claimed. But rape has gone down. Biden actually asserted it had tripled.”

Biden’s office referred the Post to the Flint police for the numbers, which issued a statement from Public Safety Director Chief Alvern Lock.

The statement said: “The City of Flint stands behind the crime statistics provided to the Office of The Vice President . . . This information is the most accurate data and demonstrates the rise in crime associated with the economic crisis and the reduced staffing levels.”

Police officials blamed the discrepancy in numbers on clerical errors and different methods of counting crimes, according to the Post. “Interestingly, Flint Police Chief Lock has repeatedly asserted that cuts in staffing had little effect on the crime rate.”

“Clearly, the city of Flint supplied bad data, and either Biden or someone in Biden’s office should have caught it,” the Post added.

“In any case, the vice president should know better than to spout off half-baked facts in service of a dubious argument. Even if one believes there is a link between crime and the number of police — which is debatable and subject to many caveats — there is no excuse to make the dramatic claim that more people will die or be raped without additional funds for police.

"When making such a breathtaking charge, you had better have your facts straight,” the Post concluded.

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