Former sheriff: Crime rates falsified, seeks investigation; Sheriff Mike Scott calling claim unfounded, politically motivated
Former Lee County Sheriff Rod Shoap has accused current Sheriff Mike Scott of falsifying crime rates over a three-year period.
Both are running for sheriff in Lee County as Republican candidates in the 2008 election.
Shoap sent off a letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement requesting an audit of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office’s records after claiming to have done an independent audit revealing “that the Lee County Sheriff’s Office reclassified calls for service over 150,000 times during the past three years of 2005 to 2007 … in order to artificially and fraudulently lower the crime index and crime rate.”
“That sounds a bit high to me,” said Scott about the numbers cited in Shoap’s audit request. “There are occasions when crimes are reclassified, but it’s not done to sway the overall numbers … it’s done because there are things that change.”
Scott said crimes are often dispatched under incorrect classifications due to the variability of initial information, which are later corrected. He said he is confident an audit from the FDLE would clear his name of Shoap’s accusations.
“Not only did (Scott) say he got response times down, he said crime was down,” said Shoap. “Deputies talk to me every day, crime isn’t down. You don’t have to look any further than the six o’clock news and the morning paper to see that.”
Shoap’s independent audit of random samplings of LCSO crime reports claims, “More than half of the 2006 reports I examined and one-third of the 2007 reports I examined were wrongly reclassified to non-UCR (uniform crime report) crimes.”
Additionally, Shoap said his audit revealed the department had not been filing reports for events which were transcribed in dispatch logs, and was closing cases incorrectly.
“This is his baggage, this isn’t my baggage,” said Scott, who accused Shoap of falsifying crime rates during his term as sheriff from 2000 to 2004.
Shoap defends his accusation of Scott, saying Scott is referring to an audit in 2004 that was not yet complete for uniform crime reports.
“I said, ‘The year’s not up yet, we haven’t even gotten to crimes yet,'” said Shoap of Scott’s accusation.
Shoap said he put in place a monthly auditing system in 2001 when he got into office, which he said Scott removed when he was elected in 2004.
Scott said “anything and everything” Shoap put into place was done incorrectly. Scott added that his administration uses a widely-trusted law enforcement system called CompStat to keep track of crime statistics.
Scott said Shoap’s accusations are “obviously politically motivated” since he is running for sheriff against Scott in November.
“It is politically motivated,” Shoap said. “But here’s the thing: is it true?”
Shoap’s request for an audit by the FDLE was sent by mail Tuesday and a response from the agency has not yet been determined.