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If you think crime is getting worse in your neighborhood, but statistics don’t show it — you’re probably right

By in Press Enterprise on November 15, 2017

By Susan Shelley

Is the LAPD cooking the books to make the city’s crime rate look lower than it is?

That’s the allegation from Captain Lillian Carranza of Van Nuys Division, who has filed a claim alleging that aggravated assaults have been intentionally underreported in more than one division of the LAPD.

Carranza contended at a news conference that there has been a “highly complex and elaborate coverup.” Police Chief Charlie Beck responded angrily that the accusations were “untrue,” “outrageous” and “damn lies.”

Beck noted that violent crime in L.A. is up 4 percent in 2017. “If I’m cooking the books, I’m not doing a good job,” he said.

But you don’t have to be a math major or a chef to wonder if 4 percent is perhaps the best they can make it look. Beck might have been more convincing if he had simply promised a full investigation into Carranza’s charges.

Crime statistics, cooked or raw, are not a perfect indicator of a city’s safety. Many factors are not measured, including, obviously, crimes that go unreported for any number of reasons.

That’s why federal officials use two measurements to get a more accurate picture of crime rates: the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, and the National Crime Victimization Survey.

The Uniform Crime Report is made up of statistics reported to the FBI on various major offenses from nearly every law-enforcement agency in the United States — local, county, tribal and federal. The UCR Program dates back to 1929 and collects information on murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and approximately 20 other categories of crimes.

The National Crime Victimization Survey, run by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, began in 1973 and was overhauled in 1993 to improve the questions and broaden the scope. Twice a year, U.S. Census Bureau personnel interview a nationwide representative sample of about 75,000 people in 43,000 […]    

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