In police work, as with most things, it is what gets measured is what gets the most attention. So police departments know if certain crimes are under reported, their stats can look better. If serious crimes get reported or tracked as lesser offenses, it can create a false impression.In this piece from the Dallas Morning News, a practice of Dallas police officials is being called into question and it all has to do with how they are defining “aggravated assault.
The UCR is a report compiled by the FBI every year. This report is extensive and includes data from cities and towns across the nation. It is one of the primary sources of crime data.
Each year cities submit their stats to the FBI for compilation in the UCR. They must tell the FBI how many robberies were reported, how many rapes were reported, and so forth. For assaults, the FBI requires that only those designated as “aggravated” be reported.
Although the term “aggravated assault” can mean different things from state to state, communities are to defer to the FBI’s definition when determining the statistics to send for the UCR. Herein lies the problem.
The FBI defines an aggravated assault as one which causes serious injury or one that involves the use of a weapon that could potentially cause serious injury. That is different than the definition that Dallas officials are using. Dallas police are only reporting those that result in serious injury, despite the use of a weapon.
This means, for instance, if a victim is beaten with a steel pipe but the act doesn’t result in injuries that the officials would call “serious” they are not reporting to the FBI. The issue with this? Everyone else is.
Dallas can claim a drop in assaults when looking solely at the UCR simply because they haven’t consistently reported crimes the way they are intended to be reported and some people are up in arms over this.
Basically, the Dallas police are using the Texas state definitions of aggravated assault to determine what to submit. How the state defines an “aggravated” or “simple” assault for the basis of criminal prosecution, unfortunately, should be kept completely separate from how they determine what to send in to the FBI.
Criminal definitions are determined by state statute. If you are facing charges like assault in the state of Texas, you need an attorney looking out for your best interest. Contact me today to discuss the case against you and how I might be able to help.
[…] Sadly, new flaws in our criminal justice system are exposed all the time, from false DUI blood test results in Colorado to police in Texas fixing criminal charge statistics. […]