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How Many Cops Does Your Local Government Have Per Resident?

Does Washington, D.C., have more cops than other cities? That’s the question I asked myself the other day after watching a patrol car drive down our quiet, residential street. I see patrol cars everywhere — much more often than I did previous cities like Houston and Austin.

There’s a reason: Among the top 50 most-populous local governments, D.C. simply has more police officers per resident, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which surveyed large police forces a few years ago. The city has about 670 cops per 100,000 residents, well ahead of Chicago, which was second with about 472 per 100,000. Houston had about 220, and Dallas had about 260.

Of course, D.C. is the capitol and diplomatic center of the country, and it’s densely populated with pockets of high crime and poverty. So a large officer to resident rate is understandable. But it’s a bit surprising how much D.C.’s ratio eclipses that of other major cities.

This chart shows the cities among the top 50 that have the highest per-resident officer ratio:

Here are the data for all 50 cities plotted on a map made with TileMill. Larger symbols represent higher numbers of officers per 100,000 residents:

See larger, interactive version

Data source: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics

NY Times Examines Injuries To Jockeys, Horses At Race Tracks

The New York Times has posted a sad and troubling story about the horse racing industry:

[A]n investigation by The New York Times has found that industry practices continue to put animal and rider at risk. A computer analysis of data from more than 150,000 races, along with injury reports, drug test results and interviews, shows an industry still mired in a culture of drugs and lax regulation and a fatal breakdown rate that remains far worse than in most of the world.

The story has a chart and map visualizing the rate of incidents at each track, showing how it varies by state:

Cain Out. Perry Down.

Back in October I posted line charts illustrating Herman Cain’s rise in popularity among GOP — and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s descent after some unsteady debate performances. Yesterday Google released its 2011 “zeitgeist” report, which visualizes worldwide searches during the last year, allowing another comparison of the two men. 

This (unnecessarily 3D?) chart shows the 10 fastest-rising searches in politics news during a critical point in the primary for both candidates. You can see when Cain (in green) began his slide, following allegations of sexual harassment. Perry (in blue) also dropped after the “oops” moment in early November: 

Charting ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Discharges Over Time

The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy ended today, eliminating a practice that led to more than 13,000 service member discharges since 1993. Its enforcement has been in decline since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to unofficial stats from Wikipedia

See larger, interactive version | Made with Tableau Public

FOIA-ing the White House

Last month I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the White House asking for a list of President Obama’s official trips since he took office. I’m seeking the data not for my day job, but as a personal visualization opportunity (and because presidential travel guru Mark Knoller won’t share his famous database with me).

Under the Freedom of Information Act, I’m seeking a historical electronic listing of trips made by President Obama since he took office in January 2009. Specifically, I’m seeking a database,spreadsheet or comma-delimited text file disclosing his travel withthe following fields, if maintained: Trip ID, date, address(City/State) of trip destination(s), and any notes or descriptions of the event.

I’m not seeking PDFs or paper printouts. I’m not seeking data on future trips. I’m not seeking any fields that contain security information, or information about the president’s family (if they accompanied him on any trip). If you do not maintain some of the fields I’ve requested, I will amend my request accordingly.

Please let me know if you or your office need clarification, or if you believe some or all of the records might fall under a FOIA exception. I’m willing to discuss amending my request, if needed, especially if doing so would prevent a denial of my request, reduce the burden on your staff or speed the release of the records.

Today, I got this letter from the Office of Management and Budget, the agency that handles the White House’s open-records requests: 

At least I know they’re processing the request. As it turns out, OMB is pretty quick when it comes to handling FOIA requests. From 2008-2010, the agency closed its request cases in just over a month on average. So, there’s hope that some day soon I’ll know whether I get the data. I’m still not too hopeful, though.

Here’s a comparison of some major federal agencies and the time it took each to process requests during fiscal years 2008-10: 

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Source: FOIA.gov