Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke called for an independent review yesterday of city shootings in 1993 and 1996 after police acknowledged that they might have over-reported the number of shootings five years ago.
Schmoke said he would be willing to hire a major accounting firm to conduct the review, or use experts from the University of Maryland to help compare numbers for the two years.
The mayor expressed concern at his weekly news conference about a report in The Sun Monday that said police over-reported the number of shootings during two months of 1993.
"I just think this whole matter needs an independent review from someone who is going to look at all the shootings," Schmoke said. "I think people would like to know with some certainty what the actual facts are."
Schmoke's call for a review of the shooting statistics is the latest round in a debate over whether Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier misled the public last year when he announced that city ** shootings dropped nearly 60 percent since his arrival in February 1994.
Frazier's critics have said that the drop was not so dramatic and that the Police Department overcounted the number of shootings for 1993.
City Councilman Martin O'Malley and Council President
Lawrence A. Bell III have challenged Frazier's claim that shootings have dropped by nearly 60 percent, noting that homicides during the same period dropped by 12 percent.
O'Malley accused Frazier of perpetuating a "massive hoax" on the city by fabricating police statistics.
He said Frazier over-reported shootings in 1993 and under-reported 1996 shootings.
Frazier and police administrators have denied the accusations.
They say that once the figures for both years are reviewed, it will confirm their statements.
But police officials told The Sun last week that an internal review showed that the department over-reported shootings for two months of 1993 by 25 percent.
The department acknowledged the errors after The Sun found )) discrepancies during a review of the shooting statistics.
Schmoke said that revelation indicates both years must be fully reviewed.
"It's gone on too long and needs to be resolved," Schmoke said. "I think we need the whole year and not just a couple of months."
Schmoke said he hopes the review will end speculation about whether police administrators knew they were using faulty figures when announcing the decline in shootings to the public last year. "I would just like to see more of our energy focused on fighting crime than on fighting one another," Schmoke said.
The University of Maryland's criminal justice department has offered to provide students to help with a review, Schmoke said.
The mayor said he would also consider entering into a contract with the school to conduct the audit.
At the request of the City Council, City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt also is conducting an audit of the shooting figures.
The Police Department said yesterday that it would welcome a full and independent review of their numbers.
O'Malley said that he also is pleased to hear the mayor's pledge.
"I'm glad he understands the serious nature of this," O'Malley said.
Pub Date: 5/22/98