Columbus Dispatch — Why Don’t Local, State and Federal Crime Numbers Add Up?

By Beth Burger
The Columbus Dispatch
October 17, 2017

…Researchers, lawmakers, investors and real estate agents are just a few of the groups that sometimes use uniform crime reporting data from the FBI. Community members who are concerned about safety are given a snapshot of reported crimes through the statistics and the data is one way leaders can be held accountable.

Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said that in some ways, law enforcement never has been best equipped for crunching the numbers.

Go to a police department and ask to be taken to the unit that does the crime reporting. Sometimes, it’s civilians with advanced degrees and computers, he said.

“Other places, you walk in and it’s full of uniforms,” he said, pointing out that some departments view crime reporting as a desk job for officers who no longer want to work patrol. At a department such as the New York City Police Department, there are civilian research analysts with doctorates.

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