Having trouble sleeping?
I have just the thing for you: The Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Sure, you could spend hours playing videogames, but, trust me, the Bureau’s website is every bit as good for those dark hours when you need something to occupy your mind. Continued
It’s chock full of fascinating and inexplicable stuff.
Take the most recent report on the site: a “census of state and local law enforcement agencies, 2008.”
Why is there a report on law enforcement numbers three years ago?
Who knows and who cares? Just be glad it’s there so you can amuse and amaze your friends with fascinating statistics.
The trick to fully appreciating this kind of website is finding the most intriguing nuggets of information and then trying to figure what they could possibly mean.
Some highlights from the 2008 law enforcement census report:
It’s a quadrennial series. While we’re being distracted by presidential elections, someone is busy counting cops. The general population only gets counted every decade, but police are counted every four years.
Possible meaning: police need to know they can be counted on. Or maybe the public needs to be reassured that they’re still there.
Also, if the numbers come back low, we’ll know that criminals are winning.
Security in numbers: This is my favorite line from the report: “From 2004 to 2008, the number of full-time sworn personnel per 100,000 U.S. residents increased from 250 to 251.”
We can all feel safer.
Ups and downs. 15 of the 50 largest police departments had fewer cops while 10 of the 50 largest departments had “double-digit increases” in cops.
Finding meaning in that one is tough. I think the meaning is that life can be meaningless.
Police reflect society. 7% of state and local law enforcement agencies employed 64% of all sworn personnel.
I blame Republicans and a lack of regulation.
MORE NUMBERS. Can you tell I’m having sleeping problems?
Well, it’s worth it when you come up with interesting stuff. I just discovered that the Bureau conducts an annual survey of jail inmates. You don’t have to wait four years for these numbers because it’s more important to keep track of criminals than police.
It turns out that there are 242 city and county jail inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents.
This either means the cops have got them outnumbered or there are nine cops out there per 100,000 residents not doing their jobs.
It was a tough competition for favorite sentence in this report, by the way, but I finally gave the award to this one: “When at least one nonregional jail reporting unit within the jail jurisdiction has responded and at least one nonregional jail reporting unit has not responded, the multi-jail factor weights up the data for the responding nonregional jail reporting unit to account for the nonresponding jail reporting units within the jail jurisdiction.”
I think that means they’re making up the numbers.
All those jails are probably alike anyway.
SIGHT OF THE WEEK. I got to see a perplexed young woman in jeans prevented from entering the courthouse in Torrance, California by security guards. She didn’t even get to go through the metal detector – with the small beige dog she was carrying.
As I walked away, I saw her just outside the court door calling someone on her cell phone.
My guess is she was contacting the dog’s lawyer.