Monday, September 07, 2009

Dallas 'juking' crime statistics

After taking heat for many years about Dallas having the highest per-capita crime rate in the nation, the Dallas Police Department took decisive action: They changed the reporting procedures so some crimes aren't included in the totals.

The result: "This year, Dallas shed its distinction as having the highest crime rate of U.S. cities with more than 1 million people. San Antonio claimed the top spot, and Dallas slipped to No. 2. The department's policy of labeling some crime reports untrustworthy and not counting them has played a significant role."

The News investigated in detail the data on car burglaries, finding that 8% of incidents reported weren't counted in the crime stats sent to the feds.

Dallas notoriously has had a problem with poor criminal justice data reporting and because of these data collection changes, Grits has previously expressed skepticism over the reliability of Dallas' reported drops in crime. The News found that although Dallas had reported a 10% drop in crime, the decline would have only been 7% without the reporting changes.

Did you ever watch the HBO series, The Wire? (If not, I highly recommend the DVD.) That show depicted the constant "juking" of statistics inside the Baltimore police department because of pressure from politicians to reduce the crime rate. That appears to be what's going on in Dallas.

Excellent reporting, btw, be sure to read the whole story by Steve Thompson and Tanya Eiserer. This is a great example of what daily newspapers do that blogs and other under-resourced media cannot replicate. Good stuff.


Anonymous said...

It's a great example of reporting....and another example of how much you can trust any big bureau of the government to do the right thing.

No heads will roll. They'll just figure out how to do it so nobody can see what they are up to next time.

Anonymous said...

This is certainly nothing new. It's too bad we'll never get a real snapshot of the crime trends here. Your guess is as good as the next. Shouldn't someone hold agencies responsible for their accuracy of crime reporting data?

Anonymous said...

Nothing new..the same is done in Arlington when, for example's sake, a 911 call is reported as domestic violence and then, once police arrive, turns out to be criminal battery. Guess what stat is counted? Yup - one domestic violence call.

Anonymous said...

Oh Dallas. I see why they're not proud of having the highest crime per capita than any other large city in the country, but it seems like leaving certain crimes out of their reports is dishonest...and doesn't make a lot of sense. The Dallas guns laws in place are great, but there are still crimes involving guns. Why?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see this post was written in 2009... But even now Dallas is on 1-st place among the most criminal cities over the US. Back then in 2099 it had over 15 burglaries per 1000 people. And San Antonio had only 13. I was always wondering why NY or Chicago are not #1. They seem very gangsta, imho. But checking the crime statistics over the US actually surprised me a lot.