KCUR News
1:17 pm
Mon December 28, 2009

Do The Crime Numbers Lie ?

Kansas City, Mo. – Periodic data may show one city with a dramatic increase in crime while another near it is the exact oposite. Now, Kansas City police researchers are going to work to learn how accurate crime statistics really are.

Other than the obvious, say the number of homicides, there is a lot of speculation why occurrence of crime can vary, city to city. There is a suggestion to the Kansas City Board of Police commissioners, it may come down to how the numbers are collected, organized and saved.

Commissioner Karl Zobrist is bothered that some figures will show a lawless city when it might not feel like one. In his words, "The chief and some other folks said, you know it may just be because we really do a good job of collecting our data. We don't manipulate it. When there is a call for service, even if somebody said i'm not going to press charges, and in another city they say, that's fine, i'll just tear up my report. We don't do that kind of stuff, and it would be interesting just for the board and ultimately the public to kind of understand this."

And so analysts will learn how other cities collect their information and how they treat it. An audit of crime clearance rates, city to city, brought the subject into focus.