Monday, January 2, 2012

If It's Not Recorded, Did A Crime Happen?

Last week there was this piece over at The New York Times that looked at reports of NYPD officers shirking reports. Reports of officers not taking reports from crime victims isn't new and the article hints at a possible reason.
Crime victims in New York sometimes struggle to persuade the police to write down what happened on an official report. The reasons are varied. Police officers are often busy, and few relish paperwork. But in interviews, more than half a dozen police officers, detectives and commanders also cited departmental pressure to keep crime statistics low.
We've seen allegations of this kind of crime statistical chicanery before, not only at NYPD but also at other police agencies. Yet, shirking reports creates problems for the police department.

One, not taking a report from a crime victim leaves the victim with a terrible impression of the department.  While the crime the victim is trying to report is probably no big deal to the officer, it's a big deal to the victim. By not taking their problem seriously, you have essentially told that victim they are unimportant. Don't be surprised if the victim returns the favor next time your department is trying to drum up community support for a pay raise or for a budget increase to buy new equipment. If the victim has to take their complaints to the mayor or city council, don't you think this makes an impression on these community leaders when they are considering what budget items to cut?

Two, by not taking these reports you are shooting your agency in the foot when it comes to having an accurate picture of crime in the community. These crime reports will often times tell your agency what areas of town are beginning to experience problem crimes. While sometimes not every crime ends up getting reported to the police, your crime analysis unit needs to have as much data as possible to analyze in order to draw accurate conclusions about what is occurring in your community.

What is your agency doing to ensure the accuracy of crime reports in your community?

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