NOTE: We found additional issues with the data after we initially presented it here. It turns out that a number of the calls (~54 of them) that came from FCPS High Schools were for the SAME INCIDENT, though calls were logged to multiple agencies on the same day, and at the same time.
So we dug deeper into these data to more accurately reflect how many INCIDENTS were called in to ECS from FCPS High Schools.
We have added this last piece at the very end of the post. Thanks again to all the folk on the social medias who in one way or another led to the lightbulb going off over our heads here...
The Rank Stranger
On April 20, 2018 (which happens to be the last time we posted here at The Stranger's Almanac. Yeeeesh. Been busy), one candidate for Frederick County School Board posted the following to her Facebook page:
Let's be honest: 11 shares and a combination of 22 Likes, Wows, and Loves from the Book of Faces probably shouldn't alarm anyone. However, I cannot help but cringe at the idea that if someone such as Cindy Stickline-Rose is elected to the Frederick County School Board - along with her "slate-mates" (who some have unaffectionately dubbed "The Hate Slate"), at least one of whom [cough-cough-Jonah Seth Eisenberg-cough-cough] also shared and commented on these numbers - that her/their inability to understand how to analyze data, or "crunch numbers" if you will *should* sound alarms from here to WashCo., MoCo., & CarrolCo.
There is more to an Excel spreadsheet with multiple rows and columns than simply counting things in one single column. For example, when I saw the above numbers on Ms. Stickline-Rose's Facebook post, I thought "Oh, man - I bet she is just looking at the total calls associated with each high school. I bet she didn't delve into any further nuance about *why* those calls were associated with those schools."
After that thought...I kept scrolling. But, like most things with this FCPS School Board candidate slate: it stuck in my craw.
So we put in a PIA for the same information and decided to dig in. That said, in this post we take a deeper look at "all the calls at High Schools in Frederick County processed by the Frederick County Department of Emergency Communications" between April 1, 2017 and April 1, 2018 (no joking). [note: the italicized text above was copied/pasted directly from the email I received from the Frederick County Director of Emergency Management Services. So I am not going to use the language of "911 calls" as Ms. Stickline-Rose does above, because I am not 100% sure that is accurate].
The Raw Number of Calls Associated with FCPS High Schools
So here is something I will only get to say once in this post: Ms. Stickline-Rose is correct about the total number of calls at FCPS high schools processed by the Dept. of Emergency Communications for the noted schools above. Have a look below at Table 1 to see the raw number of calls processed for each FCPS High School.
Table 1. Total Calls Processed by the Frederick County Dept. of Emergency Communications from each FCPS High School, April 1, 2017 to April 1, 2018
Yes, there were a total of 3,620 calls made to dispatch some Frederick County agency to one of the high schools above. She got this number by counting all the calls from one column. Also, yes, there were 721 calls made for Brunswick High, and 549 made for Frederick High. So this shows a little understanding of how to spreadsheet. Ms. Stickline-Rose also notes that of the calls "most [were] for police." Red flag here, folks. That seems like a LOT of burden on Frederick Police. Maybe her 'spreadsheetin' ain't as good as I thought.
If your first question wasn't "WHY WERE THESE CALLS MADE?" and your second question wasn't "WHICH AGENCY WAS DISPATCHED AS A RESULT?" then you're in luck - because they *were* my first two questions. We're gonna answer them below.
A Note on the Data:
Once I got these data, I cleaned them, and combined them into one sheet - while preserving the original data sent to me by the County; included on separate tabs in the workbook. I also added some categories to the combined dataset. For example, I combed through the records and created a "Call Type Category" because many of the individual call reasons could be binned together - such as those dealing with routine patrolling or "Community Talk/Presentations." Next, I created a dichotomous variable notating whether the call was "criminal" or "non-criminal." This is coarse language, but it helps separate out those calls for Rape/Attempted Rape ('Criminal', clearly) with those that are for "Medical/Injury/Sickness" reasons (non-criminal). Finally, I created one last dichotomous variable (1/0) to determine which calls happened during 'normal' school hours (a generous 7:00 AM til 5:00 PM) and which did not. The reason behind this is because Ms. Stickline-Rose wraps her post up with "There is more going on in your children's schools than you know." Sure. But let's be sure that we're looking at those data that reflect *when* our children are actually *at* school. Because who gives a shit if old man McGillicutty gets slapped with an "indecent exposure/micturation" charge for pissing on a school bus in the parking lot at 1:00 AM?? Oh, and check it: You can download all the data used in this post here.
"Most Were Police"
Each call is logged by the responding agency. As you can see below in Table 2, there are nine (9) agencies that were dispatched to FCPS High Schools in response to the 3,620 calls made between April 1, 2017 and April 1, 2018.
Table 2. Total Calls Processed by the Frederick County Dept. of Emergency Communications from each FCPS High School by Frederick County Response Agency
There were calls to the police; 541 to the Brunswick Police, 654 to the Frederick Police, 2 to the Maryland State Police, and 29 to the Thurmont Police. But what about ALL those calls to the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, Rank Stranger?
I'm glad you asked.
The Frederick County Sheriff's Office has a program being implemented with the FCPS to allow uniformed police serve in FCPS schools as "School Resource Officers" - or SROs. This is not unique to Frederick County. Nor is it unique to Maryland. When I taught at a charter high school in the Natural State, we *always* had two uniformed LRPD officers at our school to help maintain order...and my school only enrolled ~140 kids. Thus, the *majority* - if not ALL - of the calls to the "FC Sheriff's Office" above are likely calls to the in-house SRO which, of course, get logged. The SROs at my school were in touch with superiors for routine checks - and for when a fight broke out. I don't think that it was unique to my old school. And, ss I am sure you can imagine in 2018 America, if any uniformed public servant does anything involving a citizen, they should be logging it, yes? Yes.
So if we imagine - or assume (correctly) that the 2,143 calls associated with the Frederick County Sheriff's Office are by in-house School Resource Officers, then we can probably toss those calls out of the "most were police" assumption.
If we do - and we should - that brings the number of calls logged for police to 1,226 - or 34% of all calls. Newsflash: 1/3 is not equal to 'most."
Remember - we're talking about ALL calls here. These include "patrol" (where you might imagine Officer Hardass calling in to say "all clear"), or "911 Hang-Up/Disconnect/Open Line" - which is also a non-emergency, non-criminal call.
What I Need is a Good Defense, 'Cause I'm Feelin' Like a Criminal
As noted above, we took the data and created a dichotomous "criminal/non-criminal" variable based on the category under which the call was logged (i.e., alcohol/drugs; fighting). Here is the breakdown of the two categories (Criminal v Non-Criminal calls):
Total Calls ('Criminal"): 558 (15.4%)
Total Calls (Non-Criminal): 3,062
Total Calls (ALL Calls): 3,620
If you've downloaded the data, you can call me out on how I categorized items under these two headings. I was mostly spit-balling, but it didn't seem too difficult. That said, next we crunched the number of calls made for each 'criminal' category, the results from which are below in Table 3.
Table 3. Total Calls Processed by the Frederick County Dept. of Emergency Communications from each FCPS High School by 'Criminal' Category
When we remove all the "fluff" calls, only 558 were for reasons one might deem 'criminal.' We include two percentage columns above in Table 3; the "% 'Criminal Calls'" column uses the 558 'criminal' calls as the denominator in the percentages; whereas the "% ALL Calls" column uses ALL 3,620 calls as the denominator.
When we categorize the calls dichotomously as 'criminal' and non-criminal, the 558 'criminal' calls only represent 15.4% of ALL calls in to the Frederick County Department of Emergency Communications over the April 1, 2017 to April 1, 2018 period. The majority of these calls were for "School Alarm" - which could be a student pulling a fire alarm, or leaving through/accidentally opening a "DO NOT EXIT, ALARM WILL SOUND" door. We have reason to be concerned about the ~16% of 'criminal' calls for property damage/vandalism...and the 15% of 'criminal' calls for suspicious person/activity/vehicle. And I am sure that Cindy Stickline-Rose and Jonah Seth Eisenberg think that the 13.4% of calls for alcohol/drugs is the sign of End Times (though, dig deeper, and you'll find that only 27 of those calls were for "narcotics" - most were just drunk/disorderly folk - not even students - wandering around aimlessly on the school grounds. Hell, growing up, they used to bust ol' Maynard Plum for this ALL the time).
But consider these individual category totals as a percent of ALL calls (where we used all 3.620 calls as our denominator). "School Alarm" barely eclipses 3 percent of all calls. And if we only look at the 27 "Narcotics" calls as a percent of all 3,620 - we're talking a fraction of one percent!
For fun, we broke down the percentage of 'Criminal" calls at each school. These numbers are displayed below in Table 4.
Table 4. Total 'Criminal' Calls Processed by the Frederick County Dept. of Emergency Communications by FCPS High School
Nothing really remarkable to present here other than yes, even when we only look at the 'criminal' calls, Brunswick HS still has the most calls, followed by Frederick High - but to assume that the problem is as hellfire and brimstone-showering as Ms. Stickline-Rose would have us believe...well, that's just false.
Time Is On My Side...Yes It Is...
More nuance, friends! These data came with a TIME STAMP!! Why is this important? Recall, Cindy Stickline-Rose's quip that "there is more going on at your children's school than you know..." Well, we looked at the time stamp of these calls to determine which calls came during 'normal' school hours - which we considered to be the generous window of 7:00 AM til 5:00 PM. Our reason for this is that the language used above in Cindy Stickline-Rose's post is there to stoke fear in parents. Fear is a powerful motivator. It's also a shitty feeling. Luckily, if you're a parent, teacher, staff member, or otherwise associated with FCPS, we at the Strangers Almanac are here to remind you that FACTS > FEAR!!!
That said, we took these data and created one more dichotomous variable - a 1/0 for "School Hours." More specifically, if a call was recorded between the time of 5:00:01 PM and 6:59:59 AM, we coded it as "0" - all other incident times (7AM til 5PM) were coded as a "1". Then we filtered out our data to include *only* those calls from 'Normal' school hours.
As you will note in Table 5 below, this reduces the total number of calls down to 2,186.
Table 5. Total Calls Processed by the Frederick County Dept. of Emergency Communications from each FCPS High School by Frederick County Response Agency 7:00 AM til 5:00 PM
Percentages are mostly the same - but the sheer volume of calls is reduced when we don't include those made when students are not at school. Sure, perhaps there is the random after-school event, but the main idea here is we cannot parse out when Smitty got in a fight with Spaulding at the sportsball game over who likes Brucie Melvin more versus those times when old man McGillicutty took the aforementioned piss. Either way, I think we should concern ourselves less with what happens when students are not legally required to be on school grounds, and focus more on times when they are.
Here is the breakdown of 'Criminal,' non-criminal, and ALL calls made during 'Normal' school hours (7:00 AM til 5:00 PM):
Total Calls ('Criminal"): 356 (9.8%)
Total Calls (Non-Criminal): 1,830
Total Calls (ALL Calls): 3,620
We further break down those pesky 'Criminal' calls by call category during 'Normal' school hours below in Table 6.
Table 6. Total Calls Processed by the Frederick County Dept. of Emergency Communications from All FCPS High Schools by 'Criminal' Category During 'Normal' School Hours (7:00 AM til 5:00 PM)
Y'all - we;re talking fewer than 10% of the calls made during 'Normal' school hours to the Frederick County Department of Emergency Communications were made for 'Criminal' activities at FCPS high schools. Come ON! We son't even eclipse 2 percent in any one 'Criminal' category for ALL calls made during 'Normal' school hours. [Note: to compute this, I am taking the 356 'Criminal' calls during 'Normal' school hours and using the TOTAL CALLS over April 1, 2017 to April 1, 2018 period (3,620) as the denominator].
If time *really* were on my side, I would get data to compare FCPS to other school districts in Maryland. But then again, I am not running for FCPS School Board - so instead, let's ask Cindy Stickline-Rose to provide these comparison data!
But Wait...There's More (Addendum: 5/15/2018)
As we noted above, several folks chimed in on the social media after we went live with this post on the early evening of 5/14/2018. Some of the response was semantics (Frederick Police, not Frederick County Police), and some of it was a challenge to the numbers presented. Special thanks to Ms. Tina Thompson Foertschbeck who, on facebook, correctly noted an error in our numbers. We set out to correct it at once and re-post everything with the proper information.
But while we were digging into this, we noticed that there were cases where, for example, the Brunswick Police Department and the Frederick County Sheriff's Office (SROs) were notified on the same day at the exact same time. In other cases, we noted that two different agencies logged the same "Call Type" on the same date but with only an hour-ish time gap between them. It is more than likely these are the same INCIDENTS...though there may have been calls to multiple agencies.
Thus, we went back to the main spreadsheet and concatenated the "Date" and "Time" columns to create a unique identifier for each call. Next, we filtered out ONLY those calls we termed "Criminal" and were left with 558 incidents. We then removed any duplicates from the dataset (this removed 28 cases and left us with 530 unique cases). Lastly, we combed through these 530 individual records sorted by date and time of call, and notated those calls which occurred on the same date, same time, but within roughly an hour and a half of one another. This is an arbitrary time gap based on how long it might take an agency to respond, assess the situation, and the possibly call in another code on the same incident. After coding these, removing the duplicates, and filtering out those incidents that did not happen during 'Normal' school hours, we were left with calls responding to 302 unique incidents. The unique "criminal" incidents during 'Normal' school hours are shown below in Table 7.
Table 7. Total Calls from UNIQUE INCIDENTS Processed by the Frederick County Dept. of Emergency Communications from All FCPS High Schools by 'Criminal' Category During 'Normal' School Hours (7:00 AM til 5:00 PM)
Once again, this doesn't change much, but the number in nearly EVERY category above dropped as compared to those numbers in Table 6. The only constants were Trespassing and Truancy at 10 and 5 incidents, respectively. The number of Overdose incidents during 'Normal' school hours numbers 3 (down from 8 total regardless of time stamp and whether it was part of a 'multiple' call).
But recall, the initial post that started this deep dive noted that there were [GASP!] 3,620 emergency calls from FCPS high schools - "most for police." When really, only 302 of these calls - or 8.3% were for 'Criminal' incidents that happened during 'Normal' school hours (7:00 AM to 5:00 PM).
At a recent meeting of political minds and politicians (involving booze for the majority of those of us around the table), I was told that "Frederick County voters don't care about facts. Using data and numbers to make a point makes you look like an elitist."
I reject this premise. Because candidates like Cindy Stickline-Rose and Jonah Seth Eisenberg, and poor Edison Hatter and Chaz Packan (who seem like innocent kids roped in with the wrong crowd) PRETEND to use facts. But they're just meaningless words. Invalid points. False naratives. This is the stuff of charlatans. I think voters in Frederick County should deserve candidates who can back up their claims and campaign promises with facts. And I think that voters in Frederick County want these types of candidates in office.
I've yet to figure out why people seem so afraid to call "bullshit" on political candidates when they speak? Maybe it is because folk think "such-n-such is running for X office, so CLEARLY they know what they're talking about/doing!"??
Say it with me now: BULL SHIT!
Challenge EV-RY-THING you hear coming out of the mouth of a current - or aspiring politician. These individuals are making SERIOUS decisions with YOUR money. You have EVERY right to question their abilities, knowledge, credentials, words, thoughts, behaviors, and intentions.
That all said: Cindy Stickline-Rose, your interpretation of "911 Calls" from Frederick County High Schools over the period April 1, 2017 to April 1, 2018 is BULLSHIT. You GROSSLY misinterpret these data, and are spewing FALSE FEAR through the unfortunate bloviations on your Facebook page (and god help us, elsewhere). Your inability to analyze and interpret these data should give ANYONE considering casting a vote on your behalf SIGNIFICANT PAUSE. Because if you can't correctly analyze and present information about emergency calls coming from FCPS high schools, how should ANY of us expect you to adequately and equitably analyze the county school budget? The only thing here that is "very telling" is that your election to the FCPS School Board is a NIGHTMARE scenario.
You said "there were calls for ...assaults," Sure. There were 63 calls made during 'Normal' school hours for 'Assaults/Disturbance/Domestic' reasons. But when you look at how many calls came in for the SAME incident, the number drops to 55 - that's FEWER than 2 percent of ALL 3,620 calls. You said "there were calls for...thefts." Sure. There were 31 calls categorized under 'Burglary/Theft.' But when you remove multiple calls for the SAME incident, that number drops to 27 - which is LESS THAN ONE PERCENT of all 3,260 calls. Overdoses? THREE calls out of 3,260 (after removing multiple calls). The above spreadsheet rounded up to 0.1 percent when it tried to calculate the number of overdose calls during 'Normal' school hours out of the 3,260 calls so that it wouldn't be displaying a big fat ZERO.
And lookit - I've adjusted these categories which likely still INFLATES the numbers. So in all, those figures above are pretty liberal estimates.
See? That's how you do it. Gather data. Analyze it correctly. Make sound points. GET FEEDBACK FROM OTHERS AND INCORPORATE IT INTO YOUR ANALYSES. If you don't know how to do this - then please...do not try. Or learn how before you take to the Internet with your false and damaging knowledge. If you *do* know how to properly analyze data, then join our chorus in calling "BULLSHIT" on those who don't know what they're doing; and who only spread fear with their inaccurate, dime store analyses.
If this makes me - and anyone else who agrees with me - "elitist and out of touch with Frederick County voters..." well, then.
Vote with the Facts, folks. They're stubborn things. And they'll wind up winning in the end.