PRI Management Group
June 2, 2012
Recent cases of alleged intentional manipulation of crime statistics by law enforcement have led to high-profile accusations against notable American police departments. These accusations result in an immediate assumption that the police department in question is downgrading crime reports in order to lower crime statistics for the benefit of the agency. These accusations are sometimes politically motivated, generated internally by disgruntled employees or the result of government watchdogs who don’t have a full understanding of the crime reporting process. Such accusations have occurred in Nashville, Miami and now Milwaukee.
While the assumption is that efforts are always underway to manipulate crime data to the benefit of the agency in question, inaccurate crime statistics are most often the result of problematic reporting systems, user error and misunderstanding of crime reporting processes. Our research has indicated that legitimate instances of intentional downgrading of crime by police are uncommon and usually occur at the reporting officer level, not systematically by the agency in question.
Identifying whether a police department’s inaccurate crime statistics are the result of mere error or intentional efforts requires a systematic and comprehensive analysis of not just the numbers themselves but also of the technology systems behind them and the business processes which produce them. A comprehensive audit must include assessing all phases of the information management life cycle, training received by personnel, knowledge of and compliance with UCR rules and quality control processes.
Edward Claughton, owner of PRI Management Group and law enforcement veteran provides crime statistic audits to law enforcement and government oversight agencies to ensure the production of accurate reporting and UCR compliance.
As an expert in crime reporting methodology, Edward Claughton has provided consultation and training services to nearly 200 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and has researched and produced key articles highlighting the importance of accuracy when it comes to police crime statistics.
PRI Management Group has provided a number of resources at policerecordsmanagement.com for researchers and law enforcement alike. PRI specializes solely in the management of public safety records and data including information management systems, needs assessments and audits.