Behind City's Falling Crime Rate: Misreported Cases
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finds hundreds of cases wrongly downgraded
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2012 6:27 PM CDT

(Newser) – Milwaukee police Chief Edward Flynn had great news for the city in February: Violent crime had fallen for the fourth straight year. Except it hadn't, reports the Journal Sentinel. Its investigation found that the police department misreported at least 500 incidents since 2009. In many cases, aggravated assaults—which count toward the "violent crime" stat—got downgraded to simple assaults in the record books, even though they clearly met the more serious criteria. The newspaper had FBI crime experts review the cases.

So that 2.3% decline in violent crime in 2011 from the previous year? It was actually a 1.1% increase. At least: The newspaper suspects that another 800 cases might have been similarly misreported, but it's waiting on an open-records request to confirm. Chief Flynn chalks up the mistakes to human error and computer glitches, and promises to fix the problems. "We are not cavalier about it," he says. "That's why we have sergeants and lieutenants, and if they are getting it wrong to a statistically significant degree, obviously we want to take a look at that." Read the full investigation here.

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