In this chapter, you will gain a better understanding of the vital role that statistics play in criminology, criminal justice, and crime and intelligence analysis. Data analysis has become an increasingly critical component in police administration and crime prevention, as well as in the investigative process. Crime analysts—whether working with data that are stored and evaluated over time or with data based on observation and real-time intelligence collection—rely heavily on examining statistical data. The results of their data analysis are used, in part, to form conclusions that support the justification for tactical recommendations made to address issues related to crime.

Such was the case in the summer of 2014, where along the highways that run through a county located in upstate New York, a “highway shooter” wreaked havoc over a period of several months. Data analysis proved to be a key component in the investigative process as crime analysts studied the data to identify patterns, provide temporal and spatial information, and create strategic maps, such as the one shown in Figure 2.1.

The map in Figure 2.1 was created using geographic information systems (GIS) technology' that extrapolated statistical data from police reports to plot specific points of reference on the map. For the crime analyst, the intelligence

Pattern map associated with a highway shooting investigation

Figure 2.1 Pattern map associated with a highway shooting investigation.

learned from the data that populated the map helped to identify similarities between shooting incidents, which in turn helped to identify a pattern that was based on date, time, and location, as well as possible points of entry and egress the suspected shooter may have favored when engaged in shooting at passing automobiles.

Before you are introduced to the analysis process in which an event goes from suspected criminal incident to a documented event and, eventually, to a statistical value analyzed by law enforcement, we will first review the basic concepts of gathering statistics and the analysis of statistics employed in criminal justice. First, let’s start with a ver}' basic question: How do we figure out how much crime takes place in America?

How Is Crime Measured?

How much crime is there in America?

That’s an interesting—and tricky—question. Crime statistics must be treated with great caution and not a little bit of skepticism. In order to be both cautious and skeptical, you must ask two questions about crime statistics:

  • 1 Are crime measurements measuring what they purport to be measuring?
  • 2 Does the source of crime statistics have something to gain from the way crime measurements are presented to the public?

By asking these two important questions, you will be less likely to simply accept the crime statistics you are reviewing at face value. But where does information about crime come from?

Reporting on the Amount of Crime

Information about crime conies from agencies, private groups, and scholars. But the four most frequently used data sources for estimating crime come from:

  • • Uniform Crime Reports
  • • National Crime Victimization Survey
  • • National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)
  • • Self-report studies

Each has advantages and disadvantages, and each can be biased or slanted. But if you put them all together, you are likely to get a fair idea of the amount of crime that takes place in America.

Uniform Crime Reports

The early UCR Program was managed by the IACP, prior to FBI involvement, and done through a monthly report. The first report, in January 1930, presented data from 400 cities throughout 43 states, covering more than 20 million individuals, which was approximately 20% of the total U.S. population at the time. On June 11, 1930, through IACP lobbying, the U.S. Congress passed legislation (5 U.S.C. 340) granting the office of the U.S. attorney general the ability to “acquire, collect, classify, and preserve identification, criminal identification, crime, and other records” with the ability to appoint officials to oversee this duty, including the subordinate members of the Bureau of Investigation. The attorney general, in turn, designated the FBI to serve as the national clearinghouse for the data collected, and the FBI assumed responsibility for managing the UCR Program in September 1930. The IACP announced this transfer of responsibility in the July 1930 issue of the IACP crime report. While the IACP discontinued oversight of the program, it continued to advise the FBI in order to improve the UCR Program.

Since 1935, the FBI has served as a data clearinghouse, organizing, collecting, and disseminating information voluntarily submitted by local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement agencies. The UCR Program has remained the primary tool for collection and analysis of data ever since.

During the 1980s, a series of national UCR conferences were held bringing together members from the IACP, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the newly formed BJS. The purpose of these conferences was to determine necessary revisions to the Uniform Crime Reports, and then to implement those revisions. The result of these conferences was the release in May 1985 of the Blueprint for the Future of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR Study Task Force, 1985). The report proposed splitting reported data into two separate categories; one category would be the eight serious crimes (which later became known as Part I index crimes) and the other would be 21 less commonly reported crimes (which later became known as Part II index crimes).

Part I index crimes were composed of reported cases in two categories: violent and property crimes. The violent crimes were aggravated assault, forcible rape, murder, and robbery; those classified as property crimes in Part I were arson, burglary, larceny—theft, and motor vehicle theft.

Included in Part II were simple assault, curfew offenses and loitering, embezzlement, forgery and counterfeiting, disorderly conduct, driving under the influence, drug offenses, fraud, gambling, liquor offenses, offenses against the family, prostitution, public drunkenness, runaways, sex offenses, stolen property, vandalism, vagrancy, and weapons offenses.

The Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) committees of the IACP and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) provide vital links between local law enforcement and the FBI in the oversight of the UCR Program. The IACP, representing the thousands of police departments nationwide, and the NSA, serving sheriffs throughout the country, encourage agencies to participate fully in the program. Both committees fulfill advisory capacities concerning the UCR Programs operation.

In 1988, a Data Providers’ Advisory Policy Board was established to provide input for UCR matters. That board operated until 1993, when it combined with the National Crime Information Center Advisory Policy Board to form a single Advisory Policy Board (APB) to address all issues regarding the FBI’s CJIS.The current APB ensures a continued emphasis on UCR-related issues. In addition, the Association of State UCR Programs (ASUCRP) focuses on UCR issues within individual state law enforcement associations and promotes interest in the UCR Program.These organizations foster widespread and responsible use of uniform crime statistics and lend assistance to data contributors when needed.

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