Politics pull over BJS official

The head of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Lawrence A. Greenfeld, lost his position to an ongoing tension between the mostly non-partisan Bureau and White House Justice officials. According to an August 24 New York Times (NYT) story:
The flashpoint in the tensions between Mr. Greenfeld and his political supervisors came four months ago, when statisticians at the agency were preparing to announce the results of a major study on traffic stops and racial profiling, which found disparities in how racial groups were treated once they were stopped by the police.

Apparently political officers within the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) ordered references to the disparities deleted from the news release. Mr. Greenfeld refused; the news release was consequently not issued; and Mr Greenfeld, threatened with dismissal and loss of some retirement benefits, was eventually demoted.
"I serve at the pleasure of the president and can be replaced at any time," Mr. Greenfeld said. "There's always a natural and healthy tension between the people who make the policy and the people who do the statistics. That's there every day of the week, because some days you're going to have good news, and some days you're going to have bad news."
Statisticians within the Bureau report that "in this administration, those tensions have been even greater, and the struggles have been harder."

Contacts between Police and the Public: Findings from the 2002 National Survey
(available in PDF, 866K, from BJS)



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