Statistics in Florida Sheriff’s Campaign

Here’s a deconstruction of the statistics used in one particular campaign.

Numbers don’t always add up in sheriff candidates’ ads

Kim Bogart, a Democrat running for sheriff, says the incumbent is doing a terrible job. Just look at the numbers. Republican Bob White, that very incumbent, says he’s doing a great job. Just look at the numbers.

For example:

“What he’s failing to tell you is that response times to 99 percent of your calls for service have increased since he took office.”

Bogart was taking issue with White’s claim about response times being down. His beef is that the sheriff’s statement is based on only the most urgent 911 calls, which are less than 1 percent of the total calls for service. Using the same data as his opponent, Bogart says responses have slowed to all other calls. Sheriff’s Office figures show that the average response time for all calls ticked up from 19.5 minutes in 2000 to 22 minutes in 2007. That was fueled by the rising response time to Priority 3 and other low-priority calls (illegal dumping, noise complaints and so on) from an average of 22.1 minutes to 25.6 minutes. Such low-priority calls account for about three-quarters of the calls to the Sheriff’s Office. But response time to Priority 2 calls (suspicious person, shooting into a dwelling and so on) improved slightly, from 15.1 minutes to 13 minutes. They account for about a quarter of all calls. The bottom line: Response times have slowed for about 75 percent of the calls — which is still a lot, just not as much as Bogart claims. We rate the statement Half True.

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