When reviewing the Denver Crime Stats, the police noted that 25% of the homicides in the city were not reflected in the FBI Report. So the police allowed stats to be released reporting a 3.6% decrease in violent crime. After the release, the police are following the information with a minor release about how the numbers are inaccurate. According to the police, violent crime actually rose by 9.3%.
These problems in the numbers highlight a problem with police reporting in general. In an ideal world, the police would investigate crimes, correctly document the crimes, and correctly report the crimes. In reality, there is little investigation, crimes are not documented correctly (and facts become distorted), and the police cannot even fill out reporting forms correctly.
If we cannot trust the police to report correct numbers to the FBI, how can we trust them to accurately relay facts about a case? With thousands of cases every year, the details of individual cases become quickly forgotten leading to testimony that borders on the absurd.
It is unfortunate that the drop in crime stats will be the headline story because people need to know the truth about the problems with police. When people hear that crime is going down, they think that the police are doing a great job and increase their faith in the police. This increase in faith leads to people believing police officers to a greater degree when in trial. This is unfortunate because it creates a bias in favor of the prosecution at trial. The end result is that instead of people seriously questioning police stories, given their serious competency issues in doing things as trivial as reporting crime stats, they take for granted everything that the police officer says as the absolute truth.
Hopefully people will start questioning police more often but given the headlines in the news and the numerous television shows that praise police officers, it is doubtful that anything will change in the near future.
For now, expect facts to get distorted, investigations to be incomplete, stats to be reported incorrectly, and people to believe every word coming out of police officer’s mouths.
The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.