Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New York City: Crime Stats in Question

The concern about manipulating crime reporting in New York City has again reared its ugly head. New York has experienced an unprecedented reduction in crime over the last dozen years. However, the reductions in crime have been marred by allegations of unethical reporting of certain crimes

There is no disputing that the homicide rate is difficult to manipulate. New York's homicide rate has fallen to its lowest levels since NYPD started keeping track. However, are we getting a true picture of NYC overall crime rate?

According to the New York Times, an inspector,two sergeants and two patrol officers face internal disciplinary charges involving the apparent failure to file a robbery complaint. The charges underscore concerns of current and former police officers who say intense pressure to produce annual crime reductions has led some supervisors and precinct commanders to manipulate statistics.

In an academic survey released this year, more than 100 retired captains and higher-ranking officers reported that they were aware of instances of “ethically inappropriate” changes to crime complaints in the seven major felony categories measured by the department’s signature CompStat program. The department has disputed the methodology of the survey, reported the Times.

The issue of crime reporting has been raised in a number of cities. Dallas had a controversy concerning falling crime rates and police reporting. Baltimore is in the midst of a controversy with regard to under reporting sexual assault. The accurate reporting of crime is essential to a transparent criminal justice system.

How can Americans rely on findings by the FBI or Department of Justice (DOJ) if the reporting practices are suspect? The DOJ should adopt funding practices that deter-don't fund-agencies and departments that manipulate the tabulation and reporting of crime data.

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/nyregion/16statistics.html?_r=1&ref=nyregion

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