An interesting article since it contradicts the FBI statistics. What is important to note is that the FBI statistics are reported by law enforcement agencies –basically it is a count of the offenses reported to us. This article is reporting on the national victimization study which means that people are surveyed directly about whether they have been the victim of crime, irrespective of whether it was reported to police.
I agree with the criminologist in the article who says that one year a trend does not make. I would offer that we (police and criminologists) have known forever that certain crimes were under reported to the police, like criminal sexual conduct as an example. Police departments are very often “rated” or compared to each other on their rates (population divided by crimes) of reported crime. Of course the natural outcome of that type of system is that some departments take steps that have the net effect of reducing the number of reports of crime they take. I don’t favor that approach. Because our main job is to investigate crime I want us to take reports, even though it may boost the amount of reported crime we have, because to solve it we need to know it happened, know the details of the offense, look for the patterns and find the perpetrator. No less important is to restore to the victim what was lost as best we can–get their stolen property back to them as promptly as possible, restore their sense of safety–that type of thing. That is a high prority to us.
As a result of this article you might be wondering: is our world getting more unsafe? With respect to our community, I would argue that it as safe as it ever was. Lots of factors influence these statistical reports. While I can agree they are important, I prefer to focus on the outcomes we produce for our community.
One of our officers who is assigned to the Bloomfield Orchards neighborhood as a liasion just sent a report on a recent meeting he had with their association board. For the month of September there were only 2 calls for service that involved “criminal” activity: one was a fight between two young people over a social media posting and the other was window damaged by a BB shot. The other calls there were for alarms (where all homes were secure) and a report of peddlers. This is a normal month –it is a very safe neighborhood.
And while we’re interested in statistics, the true test of the job we are doing is safe neighborhoods. Don’t you agree?